A Sheffield mum, who handled an air revolver to take pictures of it at her boyfriend's request, has narrowly escaped prison despite the offence carrying an immediate minimum sentence of five years.
35-year-old Kelly Sims appeared at Sheffield Crown Court this morning, after pleading guilty to one count of possessing a Brocock Orion air revolver between September 23, 2015 and March 1, 2016 at an earlier hearing.
The court was told how Sims had been 'involved' with her co-accused, Jason Baldwin, who is currently serving a six-and-a-half-year prison sentence for drug offences and possession of the weapon.
Michael Bean, prosecuting, told the court that Sims, of Dykewood Drive, Wadsley came into contact with the revolver after Baldwin, who had stashed the illegal weapon at her neighbour's address, asked her to take photographs of it.
Mr Bean said: "At the time he was asking to sell the weapon. Ms Sims acknowledges and accepts, by her guilty plea, possession of the weapon in order to take photographs."
He added: "The Crown accept that her possession of the weapon was short-lived.
Mr Bean told the court that the photographs were recovered after Baldwin's phone was examined by the police.
He said that when Sims, aged 35, was questioned by the police in connection with the gun she said she knew he was planning on selling it, and could not recall if she had seen the weapon herself.
"She, in fact, indicated that he may have taken the photographs on her phone," added Mr Bean.
He told the court that Baldwin received a 'five-year minimum sentence' for his involvement with the gun, as part of the overall sentence of six-and-a-half-years.
Sims later admitted to the possession of the weapon on what was scheduled to be the first day of her trial.
Defending, Zaiban Alam, told the court that Sims had been brought in front of the criminal times a number of times in the past for unrelated offences, but after being given a suspended sentence in 2010 she had stayed out of trouble for the good of her family.
Ms Alam said: "She remained out of trouble for the best part of six years. She not only prioritises her children but throws herself into their care."
She explained how Sims was the sole-carer for her seriously-ill father and was integral to her 18-year-old son's rehabilitation from the bad injuries he suffered in a car accident.
Ms Alam told Judge Paul Watson QC she believed that these mitigating factors amounted to 'exceptional circumstances' which would allow him to avoid imposing the minimum five-year sentence for possessing a firearm.
Referencing the case of R v Wilkinson and others (2009) the Crown Prosecution Service guidelines concerning the minimum sentence for possession of a firearm state: "Where there is an intention to impose a shorter sentence than the prescribed minimum use of this must be 'exceptional'.
Sentencing Sims to 20 months in prison, suspended for two years, Judge Watson told Sims: "I have decided, by the finest of margins, to suspend that prison sentence for a period of two years. Which means, if you do not commit any further offences you will hear no more of this."
Sims was also ordered to complete 150 hours of unpaid work.