26th May 2020
On 20 October 2018 police on uniformed patrol identified a vehicle of interest to them. They followed it for a short distance before causing it to stop. A Mr. Jenkins was the driver and a female, Ms. Price, was in the front passenger seat. On searching the vehicle, a stun gun was found in the glove compartment. It was an agreed fact that Mr. Jenkins knew at the time that the stun gun was in the car and that he was the owner, driver, and registered keeper of the vehicle at the time.
Mr Jenkins gave oral evidence in his defence including as to how the stun gun came to be in his car, namely that it was put in the glove compartment by his passenger, Ms Price. He said that he did not know that Ms Price had the stun gun until she produced it in the car only very shortly before the police apprehended him. When she did so, he told her to “get that thing away from me”. She then placed the stun gun in the glove compartment. He believed that she would remove the stun gun from the car when he dropped her back home.
Jenkins was charged with being in possession of the stun gun and was convicted by magistrates. He sought to appeal that conviction by way of case stated (an appeal on a point of law to the High Court).
The argument was that there was insufficient evidence for a finding that Mr Jenkins exercised words or actions revealing such power or control of the stun gun as could fairly amount to possession of it. Mr Jenkins had only the “barest custody” of the stun gun such that he did not have it (relying on Sullivan v Earl of Caithness  All ER 844).
Heavy weight was placed on Mr Jenkins’ direction to Ms Price to get the stun gun away from him. This is said to be clear evidence that he was not in control of the stun gun, let alone assenting to be in control of it. It was the very opposite of exercising control or assenting to be in control.
In rejecting the appeal and upholding the conviction, the court stated:
He could have insisted Ms Price leave the car with the stun gun; he could have left the car in the event that she refused.
Whilst Mr. Jenkins may have expressed concern at the outset, any objection did not prevent him from voluntarily continuing on his way with the stun gun in place.
The fact that the period of possession was short-lived did not afford Mr. Jenkins any defence.