Governors back colleague with 'tremendous support'. Elwyn Roberts and Karen Thornton report
A "gun-obsessed" primary headteacher, who was jailed last week for illegal possession of firearms, still enjoys the support of his school and local community, according to governors.
Around 300 people, including work colleagues and parents, signed a petition pleading for leniency for Martin Wynn Davies, head of Ysgol Gynradd Deiniol in Marchwiel, near Wrexham.
The 58-year-old was sentenced to four years at Mold Crown Court last week, after pleading guilty to 14 charges relating to 10 handguns, two rifles and ammunition. He also asked for nine similar offences involving four handguns and five rifles to be taken into consideration.
The minimum sentence for some of the charges is five years, except in exceptional circumstances. But Judge John Rogers QC said Davies's positive record and the way that he had co-operated with the police investigation were exceptional.
Steve Parry, acting chair of governors at the 179-pupil village school, said: "Mr Davies was a dedicated professional who supported the school, but unfortunately for him his hobby was found to be outside the law.
"He has tremendous support still at the school and in the local community.
It is an unfortunate and sad case."
Mr Davies, who was due to retire in 2007 after 23 years as head, has been suspended since police raided his and his elderly parents' homes in April.
Mold Crown Court was told the conviction would cost him his job.
Hywyn Williams, Wrexham's chief learning and achievement officer, said:
"Since Mr Davies's suspension, the deputy head has taken over as acting head. The school has run smoothly and there has been no disruption to the children's education.
"We will be meeting with the governors before the end of term to discuss Mr Davies's future position. At the moment we are taking legal advice and will ensure that his union will be available to represent his interests."
The court heard Davies, of Bryn Hyfryd, Johnstown, near Wrexham, got rid of his handguns following the Dunblane shootings in Scotland just over 10 years ago - but then built up his collection with purchases from other enthusiasts.
He had also inadvertently taken ammunition to school in the boot of his car.
Davies was brought up on a farm and had his first weapon at age eight. He was said to be obsessed with guns and had an encyclopedic knowledge of weaponry. But while he held a licence for some weapons, others had been held illegally - and insecurely - at his and his parents' homes.
Judge Rogers said: "I accept that you had possession of these firearms and the ammunition because you are a collector of firearms, and in particular relatively antique firearms.
"You had no intention of misusing them, nor at any time did you attempt to do so."
But the judge told him that the seriousness of the offence was that he "ran the risk of a burglary and these weapons being stolen", when the intention of the post-Dunblane legislation was to prevent firearms being in circulation.
The weapons, including those he held legally, were signed over to the police for destruction.
They included a 9mm semi-automatic Walther P38 pistol, a .22 semi-automatic rifle, 49 Samson Luger 9 mm and 190 Blazer rounds of ammunition.
Robert Trevor-Jones, defending, said Davies had a long and successful teaching career and had given his all to the school. But he accepted he had made a number of fundamental and repeated errors.
"He is a man of integrity," said Mr Trevor-Jones.