A WORTHING man charged with possessing a firearm with intent to cause fear of violence has been found not guilty.
Phillip Geale, 44, of Station Road, was on trial at Chichester Crown Court last week.
The jury found him not guilty on Thursday.
Mr Geale admitted to having the Beretta .177 air gun in his pocket on May 25 at 8.30pm when he was undertaking the three minute walk along Ivy Arch Road from his home to his workshop.
He claimed that the gun was uncomfortable on his ribs and while moving it from his left to right pocket he was spotted doing so by a group of people who had been walking on the other side of the road then crossed over.
But witnesses Stephen Blaker and Samantha Cox said that Geale was holding the gun and pointing it towards them in a threatening manner.
The engineer purchased the gun and its accessories for £200 in February, partially as a hobby to keep in touch with his work colleagues and partly to take apart and service as he was interested in ‘how things work’.
When he was arrested, police asked Mr Geale if he was in possession of a gun, to which he said no.
He said: “I did not want any drama involved and I did not want to touch the gun again, but I had eye contact with the officer and he was very fair and sensible.
“He looked me in the eye and I looked at the handle and he pulled it out. There were no problems.”
Prosecuting Erica Foster asked why the gun was loose in Geale’s pocket. She said: “Instead of taking the gun to bits and putting it in a case you chose to have it in one piece and loaded and in your pocket. It was a gun with a silencer and you chose to take a gun out like that.
“Would it not have made more sense to have put it in a case?
“I am going to suggest to you that you saw the group of people there and you pointed the gun at them as you wanted them to be afraid of you.
“This was not a simple one pocket to the other move it was a full half semi-circular motion towards all those people including children.”
Geale said: “It is a very quick walk and I wanted to get there and fix it because that is my hobby. I did not expect to see anyone down at an industrial estate that late at night.
“The gun was knocking on my rib so I took it out to re-position it and did not realise that there were people around. “The gun was out of my pocket for about five seconds if that. I was trying to put it away as quickly as possible after seeing those people.
“I had no intention or reason to cause anyone fear.”