GUN AND AMMO FOUND IN BIN; Shock for woman who put grass cuttings in neighbour's wheelie bin.
A VIOLENT criminal was caught minding a shortened rifle and more than 200 bullets after his neighbour used his wheelie bin for her grass cuttings.
Philip Crellin, 40, was arrested after the discovery of the .22 rifle and small arsenal of ammunition inside a black holdall hidden at the bottom of the bin on Ainsdale Road, Bootle, in March.
Rob Jones, prosecuting, told Liverpool Crown Court how the woman said: "I hope it's not a gun. To her horror, it was exactly what she said."
Police found a complete match for Crellin's DNA all over the rifle and half of the bullets, 179 of which were hollow point, or expanding, ammunition which can earn a maximum 10-year sentence. Mr Jones said: "The reality is he handled the gun on many occasions, or if just on one occasion, had been in contact with every single working part of that gun."
Crellin was arrested and denied all knowledge of the weapon, but when the DNA evidence was put to him he said he had a serious cocaine addiction and had agreed to look after the weapon for drug dealers in return for a gram of cocaine.
He also said that the reason his DNA was on the gun was that he had planned to kill himself with it, but had been persuaded not to.
This was not accepted by the prosecution. However, his barrister Simon Christie said that it would make no difference to the ultimate sentence so the judge, who also did not accept his claim, did not require Crellin to give evidence.
The court heard that, as well as the rifle, Crellin had a chamber adaptor which allowed a gas-powered pistol to fire conventional bullets and 209 cartridges including shotgun shells and .22 rifle bullets.
Crellin, of no fixed address, had previously been made the subject of a violent offender order after being jailed for causing grievous bodily harm, meaning he was specifically not allowed to keep a firearm.
He pleaded guilty to possession of the rifle, the chamber adaptor and bullets without a certificate, possession of expanding ammunition, and possession of a firearm and ammunition being a prohibited person.
Mr Christie said that Crellin was "very fatalistic" and did not care how long his sentence was.
Judge Thomas Teague, QC, acknowledged Crellin had mental health issues although he was still undiagnosed, and jailed him for six years.
He said, by his own admission, Crellin was mixed up with criminal gangs dealing drugs and in possession of firearms which he called a "toxic combination". He added: "The possession of expanding ammunition, complete with the firearm, is extremely serious, particularly bearing in mind the purpose for which you were storing them, namely criminals involved in the drugs trade."
Crellin, who was whistling as he came up to be sentenced, thanked the judge as he was taken to the cells.
'EXPECT TO GO TO PRISON' MERSEYSIDE police chiefs today vowed they would be relentless in their crackdown on organised crime.
Speaking after Philip Crellin was sentenced, Detective Chief Inspector Paul Hesketh, of the Matrix Serious Organised Crime Major Investigation Unit, said: "Officers recovered a sports holdall from a bin which had a self-loading rifle and ammunition inside.
"Detailed forensic examinations resulted in DNA from Philip Crellin being found.
"He was arrested and claimed he was looking after the firearm and ammunition for others and was being given drugs in return.
"The people who look after and store guns for criminals on Merseyside are committing an extremely serious offence and, in many ways, are as culpable as those who use them to create fear in our communities and intimidate others.
"We will be relentless in our efforts to crack down on serious and organised criminality in all its forms and I hope today's sentence sends the clearest possible message that, if you are in possession of a firearm illegally, whatever the reason, you can expect to go to prison for a significant length of time.
"The public can play a vital role in our fight against gun crime by telling us if they know where firearms and ammunition are being hidden, and I would appeal to people to continue calling our officers and speaking to us. I can reassure them we take proactive action to follow up every piece of information we receive."
A gun and a store of ammunition was found in | |the wheelie bin at Philip Crellin's Bootle home
Philip | |Crellin