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Dundee guitarist who bought stun gun after neighbour ‘threatened to murder him’ faces 5-year jail term

Michael Cosgrove said he ordered the firearm as a "last resort" for his own protection, claiming an upstairs resident had threatened to kill him over his guitar playing.

Michael Cosgrove. Image: Facebook
Michael Cosgrove. Image: Facebook

A Dundee musician who bought an illegal stun gun because he thought his neighbour was going to murder him faces being sent to prison for a minimum of five years.

Michael Cosgrove said he ordered the firearm as a “last resort” for his own protection, claiming an upstairs resident had threatened to kill him over his guitar playing.

The electroshock weapon, which was disguised as a torch, was intercepted by Border Force officers.

When police raided 52-year-old Cosgrove’s flat in Shepherd’s Loan, he told them he had not received the device but had already decided he was going to “throw it in the Tay” anyway.

Cosgrove went on trial at Perth Sheriff Court, denying he had ordered a stun gun disguised as a torch.

The same model of stun gun that was ordered by Michael Cosgrove. Image: WitnessCommercial.com

He said the item shipped was different to the Taser-style device he had ordered online.

But jurors took just half an hour to unanimously find him guilty.

Cosgrove will be sentenced next month but was warned the offence carries a mandatory minimum five years jail term.

His lawyer Douglas McConnell said there may be “exceptional circumstances” that could keep his client out of prison.

Bought to ‘nullify’ situation

The court heard how police executed a search warrant at Cosgrove’s flat on August 11 2020, days after the firearm was intercepted.

Cosgrove told them: “I bought it but saw online it was illegal and I was going to throw it in the Tay.

“I didn’t even get it, there is nothing in the house.”

He added: “You’re arresting me for ordering a Taser.

“You should speak to the boy upstairs, he keeps threatening to shoot me.”

Michael Cosgrove went on trial at Perth Sheriff Court.

Police found in his living room a notebook, with threats allegedly made against Cosgrove alongside timings and dates.

The final entry read: “If he’s thinking of playing music, I’ll kill the b******.”

Catalogue of threats

Cosgrove told the court: “This was a notebook I was keeping on instruction of the police.

“I was keeping a diary of threats that were being issued.

“It was everything that I heard. I kept a log of times, dates and what was being said.”

Asked about ordering the stun gun, Cosgrove explained: “I was surfing online when I happened to come across it one day.

“It was advertised as a self-defence device.”

Perth Sheriff Court

Cosgrove said he did not know it was a firearm and thought it was a Taser with blue wires coming from the front – not one that was disguised as a torch.

“I bough this item but there was no intention of any malice,” he said.

“I was in a situation where there was a guy upstairs threatening to murder me.

“It was a last resort to try and nullify the situation.”

Asked by fiscal depute Emma Farmer why he wanted the device – described as Taser gun with a torch on the website – he said: “To prevent myself from being murdered.”

He added: “Looking back on it now, it was an extremely foolish thing to do. I didn’t know what I was ordering.”

Capable of incapacitation

Forensic scientist Julia Bilsland was tasked with analysing the rechargable stun gun.

She said if fired, it would emit a “display of sparks and a crackling noise.”

It had the capacity to cause “localised pain” or even “incapacitation”.

Under the Firearms Act, a modified Taser of this type is a prohibited weapon and purchasing one attracts a mandatory five-year prison sentence, unless exceptional circumstances can be proven.

Sheriff William Wood deferred sentence and told Cosgrove: “On the next occasion, I expect to hear submissions as to why the mandatory minimum sentence should not apply to you.

“I will allow your bail to continue in the circumstances.”

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