Scott Anderson, also known as Scott Forrest-McNeill, was remanded in custody at the High Court in Livingston after a jury returned majority verdicts finding him guilty of buying and possessing the illegal devices, which are also known as tasers.
Following the 50-year-old father of three’s conviction the prosecution revealed that juries at Edinburgh Sheriff Court had previously found him guilty of assault to the danger of life in 2007 and for drugs offences in 2014.
During Forrest-McNeill’s trial, the jury heard evidence that police who raided his home in Maitland Hog Lane, Kirkliston in January 2018 found a collection of air rifles, a gas powered pistol and, hidden under the accused’s bed, the Chinese made flashlight which an officer immediately recognised as an illegal stun gun.
The accused originally denied a total of seven allegations brought under firearms control laws but pleaded guilty to five of them at the close of the prosecution case.
He admitted buying an illegal stun gun designed to discharge electricity without holding the necessary firearms certificate between 1 September and 1 December 2017 and possessing a stun gun without a firearms certificate and a CO2 powered pistol without an air weapon certificate on 24 January 2018.
Forrest-McNeill, who did not give evidence in his own defence, was formally acquitted of two charges of possessing air rifles without holding an air weapon certificate after the Crown accepted not guilty pleas.
The jury ultimately convicted him of the two most serious charges, both of which attract a mandatory five-year prison term: breaching Section 5 (1) (a) of the Firearms Act 1968 by buying and possessing the prohibited stun guns disguised as torches.
The first “torch” the accused bought online for GBP10 was intercepted by Border Control at Stansted Airport near London on 1 December 2017, the court was told.
He got a refund and ordered a replacement, but by the time it was delivered detectives in Scotland had been alerted and had obtained a warrant to search his home.
In his closing speech on Thursday, advocate depute Chris MacIntosh said the fact the weapon was disguised could “lull someone into a false sense of security”.
He reminded the jury that a senior police officer had given evidence that he would be afraid if confronted by someone with a stun gun, but if the weapon was disguised as a torch he would be deprived of the opportunity to escape.
He added that official tasers used by police forces were bright yellow and easily recognisable as stun guns.
He told jurors: “I suggest to you that these look like torches to the untrained eye at first glance. They do not look anything like firearms, prohibited weapons or stun guns.
“Ask yourself: is there anything in the body or appearance of these items to suggest they were weapons. Is there anything written on the bodies to suggest that they are weapons? I suggest to you there is no such thing.
“Writing on each of them says the word ‘Police’ to give an image of authority. Does the presence of these words suggest to you that the intention of the manufacturer is to mislead? I suggest they do.”
Defence counsel Drew McKenzie said a forensic scientist who gave evidence had said she’d never seen what is characterised as a stun gun which looked anything like a gun, and the police officer who found it under the accused’s bed immediately recognised it as a stun gun.
“It has a flashlight. It has the dimensions of a torch. It’s a simple dual-function item. Where’s the deception?”
He said Forrest-McNeill had told the police that he was buying ‘a torch with an electrical shocker’.
However he added: “Once he had possession of it realised it was more powerful than he had intended, realised the harm it could cause and put it under the bed out of harm’s way.”
Following the jury’s guilty verdicts Mr McKenzie said the court would benefit from a background report on his client and reserved his plea in mitigation until sentencing.
Remanding Forrest-McNeill in custody, Judge Lord Armstrong told him: “It’s my intention to commission a criminal justice social work report in order that I can be fully appraised of your whole background circumstances when I consider the question of sentence in this case.
“That being so, you’ll next appear before me at Glasgow High Court on 7 January next year at 9.30 in the morning. You will be detained until then."