Judge orders destruction of man’s illegal weapons after being told he committed suicide
A Judge has ordered the destruction of a gun owner’s arsenal of illegal weapons after being told he has committed suicide.
Roderick Tugwood took a fatal overdose weeks before he was due to a minimum jail term of five years for keeping four automatic pistols and ammunition at his home at Kenton.
He was also facing a separate trial in front of a jury in which he was charged with a £60,000 benefits fiddle.
The cases against him at Exeter Crown Court were discontinued after Judge Francis Gilbert, QC, was told he had committed suicide.
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Tugwood, aged 54 of Park View, Kenton, had admitted four offences of possessing prohibited firearms and two of possessing blank ammunition.
The guns were an Olympic .380 gun with a barrel less than 30 centimetres, two 8 mm and one 9 mm self loading pistols. The blank ammunition was one rim firing cartridge and six 8 mm cartridges.
Tugwood died while awaiting a fact finding hearing to test his claims he had no idea the weapons were capable of being used.
He said some had been given to him by his father Norman Tugwood and he did not know they had been adapted from dummy to active weapons.
Mr Malcolm Galloway, prosecuting, told an earlier hearing:”We have taken a statement from his father who contradicts completely aspects of the basis of plea. What is in issue is whether the guns belonged to his father.
“One of the guns had been altered and he says the work was carried out by his father. The father says no.”
The self loading pistols were prohibited firearms which meant Tugwood would have been liable for a minimum five year jail term unless he can show there are exceptional reasons why it would be unjust.
Judge Gilbert discontinued the cases and agreed to a request from prosecuting barrister Mr Tom Bradnock to order forfeiture and destructions of the weapons and ammunition.
The judge ordered that allegations of dishonestly obtaining benefits against Tugwood’s partner Sheena Pattle should proceed to trial.
They are currently listed to be heard next month but the case may be put back because the defendant is still distraught at his death.
Mr Stephen Nunn, defending, said she is not fit to stand the stress of a trial at the moment.