Gunman jailed for six years after armed siege

Paul Allwright was jailed for six years.
Paul Allwright was jailed for six years.

A series of misfortunes caused a man of previously good character to end up in a six hour armed siege with police in a quiet Seaford street.

Paul Allwright, 63, of North Way, Seaford, who had never been before the courts, was sentenced to six years for possessing a firearm with intent to endanger life at Lewes Crown Court on Wednesday March 27.

He pleaded guilty to the offence.

The case also prompted Sussex Police to change the way it handles gun licence applications, particularly where there is a medical concern.

A spokesperson for Sussex Police said: “We accept that our firearms licensing processes at the time did not identify Mr Allwright as an immediate risk, but actions were in hand as we had engaged with his doctor and a further psychological report had been requested.

“Delays that occurred in this case were exacerbated by an existing backlog of 1,700 renewal requests in the system, a figure that has now been reduced by more than 50 per cent.

“On May 1, the renewal notification period will be extended from eight to 12 weeks and it will no longer be possible for a licence to lapse without appropriate intervention taking place.”

Sussex Police said any request that flagged up a medical concern would now receive immediate priority, generating a prompt request for a doctor’s report.

If police receive medical advice of unsuitability to be a licence holder they will suspend a licence and remove or require any firearms to be lodged elsewhere.

The court heard how Mr Allwright lost his job in 2006 after an industrial accident.

He was diagnosed with emphysema in 2009, had osteoporosis, slight depression and was having problems with his marriage.

Mr Allwright had applied to renew his gun licence ahead of its expiry in May 2012, but his GP had recommended he was not a suitable person to own a gun.

Sussex Police told Mr Allwright on September 14 to continue owning a gun, he would need a psychiatric report costing him £2,000.

Mr Allwright’s licence had technically lapsed, but according to guidance from the Association of Chief Police Officers he was entitled to keep the gun because he had put his application in.

On September 14 police were called to a domestic incident at the house by the defendant’s wife.

It was the first time they had been called to the address. Police found the situation to be relatively peaceful and there was no allegation of a crime.

Mr Allwright had already sold two of his guns on September 15 but when he went to visit a friend to sell his last gun, his friend was not at home.

It would be this 12 bore shotgun that Mr Allwright would later use to threaten his wife of 30 years and police.

On September 15 Julie Allwright fled to a neighbour’s home after her husband threatened to shoot her and their dog, whilst under the influence of alcohol.

During the negotiations Mr Allwright threatened police with his shotgun and that he would take his own life.

A police dog was set on him and he was shot a total of six times, three times with live rounds and three times with baton rounds.

After he was shot he retreated into the house and was found by police lying on the floor with the gun at his feet.

Mr Allwright apologised to everyone who had been affected by his actions.

Sussex Police said as a result of his guilty plea, a charge of attempted murder of the police officers was dropped after consultation with the Crown Prosecution Service.