Man returns to jail after stun gun found in living room

A homeowner once jailed for making explosives has been sent back to prison for possessing a stun gun.

Martin Counsell, 57, was jailed for eight months by a judge at Gloucester Crown Court after police raided his home in Cheltenham last month.

Gloucestershire Police executed a warrant at his semi-detached house in Brookly Road on November 2 and discovered the stun gun - disguised as a torch - on a shelf in his living room.

Martin Counsell
Martin Counsell

Tests revealed the weapon, which Counsell had bought on eBay around four years ago, did not work, the court heard.

Chloe Griggs, prosecuting, said the weapon was a press-on type and carried a 5,000 volt charge.

"It was not in working order," she said. "Mr Counsell was interviewed and he explained he had purchased it off eBay three to four years earlier.

"He said it was listed on eBay as a 'self-defence torch'. He was aware it had a high voltage current. He said he bought it to build a tesla coil and a Giger counter."

Counsell was jailed for two and a half years in 2012 after making an explosive substance - also used by the July 7 London bombers - to build booby traps to deter burglars.

The defendant, of Brooklyn Road, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire had pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to charges of possessing a stun gun and possessing a firearm while prohibited for five years.

Martin Counsell jailed
Martin Counsell jailed

Eugene Hickey, defending, said Counsell was not a well man and suffered from alcoholic cirrhosis.

"He has a hobby - some might say obsession - of opening up things and using the components," he said.

"My firm instructions are that he didn't see this as a firearm. It is not a Taser. It is marketed in Europe in many countries where it is legal as an anti-rape device.

"He simply didn't understand he was committing an offence. He does tell me that if he had thought it was an illegal item he would not have had it."

Jailing Counsell for eight months, Recorder Kevin de Haan QC told him: "When you take these sorts of things into your possession you are literally playing with fire.

"They are dangerous weapons and capable of doing harm to both you and other people.

"It is said you were going to take it apart and it was your insatiable curiosity with these sort of gadgets that led you to buying it.

"I take the view you must have known you were doing something unlawful. I take the view that a sentence of imprisonment is the only sentence I can impose."

The judge also told Counsell to pay the £140 victim surcharge and ordered the forfeiture and destruction of the stun gun.