A MAN has been spared jail after being hauled into court over a reproduction gun he bought for £12.50 in a charity shop.
Portsmouth Crown Court heard Gary Dobson had bought the 1856 muzzle-loading copy weapon.
I accept this was a firearm which was a firearm which you had acquired from a charity shop for a nominal sumJudge Roger Hetherington
But when police were called to his home in Whittington Court, Emsworth, officers found it in a cupboard and arrested him.
Dobson, 57, was charged with possessing a firearm without a firearm certificate and later pleaded guilty to the charge in court.
Judge Roger Hetherington imposed a 12-month prison term suspended for two years with supervision.
He said: ‘First of all I accept this was a firearm which you had acquired from a charity shop for a nominal sum.
‘It was in fact a copy of a mid-19th century muzzle-loading weapon but which was not in working order and in order to be put in working order required several changes to it, which would have in one case required machinery.’
He added the offence was one that ordinarily would result in an immediate prison sentence.
Prosecutor Ellie Fargin told the court there was no indication it was going to be used for anything other than an ornament.
Ms Fargin said: ‘On July 28 last year the police attended the home address of the defendant at that time.
‘He smelled of alcohol and was anxious according to the officer.
‘They found in a cupboard near the front door the muzzle-loading firearm.’
The court heard there was a wooden plug in the breach, and a percussion cap nipple was sealed and obstructed, requiring machinery to fix it.
The percussion hammer screw was also missing and there was no ammunition.
It was the type of weapon that people taking part in civil war re-enactment battles would typically use, the court heard.
Dobson had originally planned to put it on a wall in his home but instead wanted to sell the weapon on.
He has a number of physical and mental health problems and had suffered two bereavements recently, it was said in his defence.
The court heard Dobson had an alcohol problem but had been free of drink since March.
Police found two cannabis plants at his home.
He had been given a six-month conditional discharge by magistrates for that conviction ahead of being separately sentenced for the firearm. He must pay a £100 victim surcharge.