Marlon Kirlew, 34, of Arcus Road, Bromley, was sentenced to seven years and six months’ imprisonment at Woolwich Crown Court on Monday, 27 April.
Kirlew pleaded guilty to possession of a firearm and possession of a firearm when prohibited for life at the same court on Friday, 22 November.
Michelle Sutcliffe, 34 (23.07.85), of Lester Road, Kent, also pleaded guilty on the same date to possession of a firearm. She will be sentenced on a date yet to be scheduled.
On Wednesday, 9 August 2017 officers from Trident and Area Crime Command – now part of Specialist Crime – executed a warrant at a flat in Stuart Road, Gillingham, Kent. A woman, aged in her 50s, answered the door and confirmed she lived at the flat.
Officers searched the property and inside a wheelie bin in the courtyard a red plastic bag was discovered. It containing a green towel with a sawn-off shotgun and two shotgun cartridges wrapped inside.
The occupant told officers she did not know who the items belonged to or how they got there.
The firearm was made safe and sent off for classification and forensic analysis.
At 22:15hrs the day before the warrant was executed, Kirlew was observed having a heated argument with a woman with red hair – now known to be Sutcliffe – in High Street, Gillingham.
Shortly afterwards at 10.45pm Kirlew was seen getting out of a white vehicle in Stuart Road. Sutcliffe was also observed within the area and the same white vehicle was later seen picking-up Sutcliffe in the vicinity of Stuart Road.
The forensics report from the gun highlighted there was DNA present on the tape wrapped around the buttstock of the shotgun, which would be adequate for further testing if persons of interest were identified.
Direct comparisons were submitted for evaluation for named suspects Kirlew and Sutcliffe, however this analysis would take some time due to the complex nature of the DNA samples.
In the meantime, detectives continued to carry out enquiries and on Tuesday, 10 April 2018 Sutcliffe – who used to live at the address in Stuart Road – was arrested on suspicion of possession a firearm.
Sutcliffe told officers she was seeing a man who worked on a drugs line in the Chatham area, which was run by a man called Tyrone. She later identified Tyrone as being Kirlew after she was shown a photograph of him. The man she was seeing used to stay at the address in Stuart Road when he was dealing for Kirlew.
In her interview, Sutcliffe said she found a gun hidden in a bag behind the sofa in Stuart Road the night before the warrant was carried out. She said she took the gun out of the bag to have a look at it. However, she later changed her story to say she found the gun a week before.
Sutcliffe tried to shift the blame onto others by telling officers that the man she was seeing put the gun in the house and that it belonged to Kirlew. She said she was angry when she found it and, instead of contacting the police, she called the man she was seeing telling him to get rid of it.
Kirlew was arrested on Thursday, 2 August 2018 and answered no comment to all questions put to him.
When the results from the direct comparison forensic tests were received, they showed the DNA sample taken from the muzzle of the shotgun was at least one in a billion times likely to have come from Kirlew. In addition, a sample taken from the trigger and trigger guard showed that the DNA discovered was more than a million times likely to have come from Kirlew.
Kirlew and Sutcliffe were charged on Thursday, 26 September 2019 and were convicted as above.
The court heard that Kirlew has previous firearms convictions, including three offences of armed robbery in 2003 and possession of an imitation firearm with intent to commit an indictable offence, which resulted in him being prohibited for life for owning a firearm.
On 26 March 2019, Kirkew was sentenced to 42 months’ imprisonment at Maidstone Crown Court for possession of heroin and cocaine with intent to supply. His sentence for the firearms offences will start once he has completed his current prison term.
Detective Constable Iain Logan, the investigating officer, said: “There is no hiding from the fact that had we not taken this shotgun and ammunition off the streets, it could have been used to cause serious injury or even worse, death.
“These convictions are a result of extremely hard work by the team, who worked tirelessly to secure evidence against Kirlew and Sutcliffe. In the end, the evidence was so strong they had no choice but to plead guilty.
“Sutcliffe knowingly agreed to harbour a deadly weapon for Kirlew, which is an extremely serious offence.
“Anyone who is or is thinking about storing a gun, or helping to hide them from the police, are directly contributing to gun crime and the devastating effect it has on communities and families.
“I want the public to be reassured that even during these challenging times, Met officers are working tirelessly – day and night – to identify and pursue offenders, help bring perpetrators to justice and take weapons off the streets.
“Firearms have absolutely no place on our streets and every time officers remove one, it makes London, and the UK, a safer place for all.”