Women jailed for hiding guns

JODIE cousins had a bright future ahead of her until she agreed to do a favour for a male friend. The 19-year-old of Clitterhouse Road, Cricklewood, was hoping to train as a care worker and was described as an upstanding young woman who had been expect

JODIE cousins had a bright future ahead of her until she agreed to do a favour for a male friend.

The 19-year-old of Clitterhouse Road, Cricklewood, was hoping to train as a care worker and was described as an 'upstanding young woman' who had been expected to 'make a positive contribution to the community and society at large'.

Today, she is behind bars thanks to that favour she did.

Jodie is one of 11 women who have been caught hiding a gun for a man since April last year.

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Yesterday, Operation Trident launched its latest advertising campaign which is targeted at women because of the alarming numbers of females being charged with possession of firearms.

Detective Chief Superintendent Helen Ball, head of Trident, told the Times many women are unaware of the gravity of hiding a gun for someone.

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She said: "Jodie Cousins was a really sad case.

"She is now in prison but had started out with a wholly different life. This has transformed the life that she would have been leading.

"For a woman who's not otherwise involved in gun crime and starting out in her life, she may well not realise the consequences."

One of the reasons why women may agree to hide guns for men is because of a myth that the judicial system is more lenient on females.

DCS Ball said: "I think there's a misconception that if you're a woman you will get a lighter sentence.

"Anyone who is 18 and found in possession of a gun will go to prison for five years, if she is 16 or 17 she will go to prison for three years."

The campaign features radio, cinema and billboard advertisements aimed at 15 to 19-year-old women as they make up more than a third of those charged in the last five years.

In 2004 to 2007 eight young women were charged with possession of a gun, last year there were 16 and so far this year to the end of August 11 have been charged.

The four-week crusade will be rolled out across the Trident boroughs of Brent, Hackney, Haringey, Lambeth, Lewisham and Southwark.

"The point of the campaign is to raise the awareness with the women themselves, their family, the people in their wider community that carrying and storing firearms for other people is such a dangerous activity," DSC Ball said.

"The crimes that those guns commit are so horrible that you will get the same prison sentences as a man in that position."

Two months ago, Dion Douglas from Neasden, was sentenced to five years in jail after she was caught with two guns and ammunition in February this year.

The 25-year-old admitted she was holding the weapons for her boyfriend Daniel Parara who is currently serving seven years in jail.

However, many women are either bullied into it, like Cousins claimed, or are too scared to tell the police who the weapons belongs to.

DCS Ball said: "There will be some women who are coerced into holding guns but the more knowledge you have, the more understanding you have about the position you're putting yourself into the more you be able to tackle it.

"Even if a woman is being coerced, it's right that she knows that the prison sentence will be a very long one.

"We hope that this campaign will give her information that she could use to stop the coercion, or that she would be persuaded to give information about the gun or gunman to the police or she can call Crimestoppers anonymously.

"I think that a lot of women believe what they have done is not that wrong and the courts will recognise that if they do get court.

"But the court recognises the full situation and the full situation is that gunmen use guns to kill people and wreck people's lives.

"Women who help them are going to face long prison sentences.

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