Thief Timmothy Draper gets shock when he finds shotgun in doctor's holdall
Maidstone Crown Court,
where Draper's case was heard
A thief stole a doctor's holdall on a train - and was shocked to
discover it contained a shotgun, a court heard.
When traced through CCTV, Timmothy Draper claimed he had dumped
the valuable weapon in a river.
But it turned out to be a lie and he continues to refuse to
reveal what happened to the £10,000 Hartwell side-by-side
Mary Jacobson, defending, said the 27-year-old drug addict
feared for his life if he gave the information to police.
But Judge Michael Carroll asked: "What about the life of anybody
staring down the barrel of this weapon?"
Draper, of no fixed address, was jailed for two years after
admitting theft, possessing a firearm and wasting police time.
Maidstone Crown Court heard Dr Alexander McCaldine was
travelling with his wife from London's St Pancras station to Kent
on November 19 last year.
Olajide Lanlehin, prosecuting, said the GP held a firearms
certificate and was transporting the gun for a friend who had been
unable to take it on a flight.
The shotgun was broken down into three parts and wrapped in
clothing before being put in the large black holdall. Dr McCaldine
put the bag next to his seat.
Draper joined the train at Rochester at lunchtime and grabbed
the bag as he got off at Gillingham. Dr McCaldine did not realise
it had gone until he got off at Sittingbourne.
"He contacted the transport police," said Mr Lanlehin. "They
swung into action pretty quickly when informed a shotgun was at
large. They checked CCTV and identified the thief."
"What about the life of anybody staring down the barrel of this weapon?" – Judge Michael Carroll
His description was
passed to local police. By chance, officers were attending a bail
hostel in Gillingham Road, Gillingham, where Draper was
He claimed he had overdosed on heroin in an attempt at suicide.
He was taken to hospital and then detained. A shotgun certificate
that was with the weapon and other items belonging to the victim
were seized from his room.
Draper, who was studying for a degree in electronic engineering,
claimed he panicked when he saw the gun and disposed of it at
Chatham Pier. He said he then went to end his life in a park by
taking a heroin overdose.
Mr Lanlehin said police divers spent a day searching the river
at a cost of about £1,500 but did not find the firearm. CCTV for
the area was checked and there was no sign of Draper on the day he
claimed to have ditched the gun.
He refused to disclose any more information.
"There was a great deal of concern the shotgun was still at
large and the use it might be put to," said the prosecutor.
Draper was on licence at the time of the offences, having been
released from a previous prison sentence 11 days earlier.
The prosecutor said a police officer was in court to make
another plea for information about the gun.
Judge Carroll told Draper: "I accept this was an unpremeditated
offence but it was a serious one. People travelling on the railways
cannot always keep an eye on luggage all the time.
"It is what happened after. When you discovered what you had
stolen, you possessed it and treated it as your own to dispose of.
There were other courses open to you.
"When police knocked on your door you lied and lied again. You
acted out a piece of theatre, offering to take police to various
"Even today you are still not prepared to assist the authorities
to recover that firearm. Your counsel says it is more than your
life's worth. So is it for the person staring down the barrel of
Asked by the judge if there was any information about the
shotgun, Mary Jacobson, defending, replied: "There will not be.
There are reasons for that. He states it is more than his life is
worth. There is genuine fear that were he to give any information
his life would be in jeopardy.
"He was told to say he threw it in the river. He has tussled
with his conscience. He doesn't normally associate in that world.
He is unable to assist further."
Miss Jacobson said it was "a theft gone wrong". She added: "He
hadn't the faintest idea when he took that bag it had a firearm in
it. It was only when he delved down to the bottom he discovered
"He was horrified. He accepts he dealt with the whole situation
completely wrongly. He panicked. He was stealing for drugs and got
more than he bargained for."
Miss Jacobson submitted that a suspended sentence with onerous
requirements could be passed.
Draper had a good job as a sound engineer after gaining
qualifications. "He was clearly going somewhere," she added. "Drugs
caused his downfall. He went from a well-salaried career to the
position he finds himself in now," said Miss Jacobson.
He was now drug-free and off a heroin substitute. He had planned
to go on a rehabilitation course.
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