Top News

St. John's judge sentences man to federal jail term for gun heist

Justice
Justice

Judge didn’t buy Adam Hanlon’s testimony of being suicidal at the time he stole firearm

Waiting for sheriff’s officers to come into the room and put him in handcuffs, Adam Hanlon attempted to reassure his loved ones the best he could Monday morning, hugging them and kissing them goodbye as they sobbed.
Moments earlier, Hanlon had been sitting in the dock, reaching behind to hold a crying family member’s hand as Judge David Orr sentenced him to 26 months in a federal prison on a range of charges, most of them stemming from an incident last summer in which he distracted an employee of a local firing range long enough to take off with a gun and ammunition.
Hanlon had pleaded guilty to theft under $5,000, unauthorized possession of a firearm, unlawful possession of a firearm with ammunition, unlawful possession of a firearm in a motor vehicle and dangerous driving, as well as charges of assault and theft under $5,000 related to an incident of domestic violence a month earlier.
The 35-year-old went into Complete Gun Repair in St. John’s last Aug. 6 and asked to use the firing range. When staff told him the range was busy and to come back in a few hours, he did, selecting a 9 mm semiautomatic handgun and five magazines with 10 rounds of ammunition each.
Hanlon pointed out some spent shell casings on the floor to an employee and when the man turned to pick them up, Hanlon took off with the gun and ammo. Staff chased him into the parking lot and tried to smash his vehicle windows to retrieve the gun as he struggled to back the car up. One employee suffering injuries when he was thrown to the ground as the car pulled away.
Hanlon was arrested a few days later when police stopped a car in which he was a passenger. He threw the gun, with the safety lock engaged, out the window as police approached. Hanlon was found to be carrying four of the five stolen magazines. He told the officers he had lost the other one in a bog.
On the stand at his sentencing hearing, Hanlon testified he was addicted to crack cocaine and severely mentally unwell at the time he stole the gun, and had taken it with the intention of killing himself. The night before his arrest, he said, he had been headed toward a secluded wooded area when he thought he heard police dogs. He ran through a bog to escape and told the court in detail what he did after he stopped and took the firearm out. He said he only realized the magazine had fallen out when the gun didn’t fire.
Orr didn’t believe it.
“The defence characterized this as an act of desperation. I don’t think the case can be characterized this way,” the judge said, though he acknowledged Hanlon’s testimony that he had sought treatment for depression and addiction and is now doing better. Orr questioned why Hanlon would have carried the gun and ammunition with him for four days if his intention was to use it to take his own life.
“He has not provided any satisfactory explanation as to why he carried it on him,” Orr continued, noting Hanlon had also come up with a plan to steal the gun and had put the gun shop employees and the public at risk when he took it and during the days he carried it around.
Orr’s sentence of 26 months was more than the 12 to 18 months Hanlon’s lawyer, Randy Piercey, had wanted, but less than prosecutor Mike Murray’s suggestion of three to five years. Orr gave Hanlon one month credit for time he has already spent in custody.
Orr also gave Hanlon a lifetime firearms ban and required him to submit a DNA sample for the national databank.

Twitter: @tara_bradbury

Recent Stories