An armed teenager who was walking through Clapham was caught by an off-duty PC who wondered why he was wearing a balaclava in May.
18-year-old Mohamed Rakib Ali was wearing a balaclava, a jacket with the hood up, and yellow gloves on May 25, despite the warm weather.
And an off-duty police officer was walking with his wife when he became suspicious of the teenager’s dress.
Initially thinking the youngster may have just committed a burglary, the officer asked his wife to call police while he challenged him. His wife called police and a friend, another off-duty PC, who drove to help.
After he had identified himself as an off-duty officer, Ali began to run away and discarded a bag he was holding into some nearby bushes.
Once the second off-duty officer arrived, he helped search bushes for the discarded bag, which contained three rounds of live ammunition. Just underneath the bag, he found a revolver containing four rounds of ammunition – one was live and would have fired if the trigger had been pulled.
An investigation revealed that the ammunition from the gun matched the ammunition in the bag.
CCTV later examined as part of the investigation showed Ali spending around six minutes near the same bushes where he had discarded his bag, shortly before the PC spotted him.
Ali, of Cavendish Street, Bedford, claimed to have been transporting the gun for someone else.
He was sentenced at Luton Crown Court after pleading guilty at a hearing on July 13 to possession of a possession of a prohibited weapon and possession of ammunition.
Judge Lynn Tayton commended the off-duty officer, saying: “He acted with presence of mind and bravery, and kept Ali under observation despite not having any police equipment.
“He followed Ali, who had loaded firearm, and acted in the best traditions of the police service with no thoughts for his own safety, only thinking of public safety.”
Detective Chief Superintendent Sharn Basra said: “I hope the sentence received by Ali will demonstrate to other young people that there are consequences if you carry a weapon. It’s not acceptable to carry a gun, whether you’re carrying it because you are intending to commit a crime or you’re carrying it for someone else.
“We’re continuing to work hard to tackle gun and gang criminality and serious youth violence; these are priorities for the force. I’m extremely proud of the off-duty officer who apprehended Ali, as well as the detectives who worked on this case and were able to secure the sentence. Our communities are safer because Ali, and a dangerous firearm, are both off the streets.”