A PILLAR of society narrowly escaped being thrown in jail after police found him with a sawn-off shotgun.
Southsea resident Jonas Budrikis, 34, was handed a two-year prison term for possessing the dangerous weapon along with four cartridges but was given a reprieve after judge David Melville QC used his discretion and elected to suspend the sentence for two years at Portsmouth Crown Court.
The court heard how the defendant had come to the UK in 2006 to make a new life from Lithuania with his wife and two children before making a name for himself as a carpenter resulting in him being ‘highly respected by his peers’ in the community.
But events nosedived when police stumbled across the Russian 25 inch double-barrelled gun when attending his Stratford House home in Sackville street after being called out following reports of a cannabis smell there, prosecutor Simon Foster said.
‘Police came upon it by accident after searching his property. It was found wrapped in a plastic bag in a cupboard. When he was arrested he said it was given to him by his grandfather in Lithuania when he was four years old.
‘He told officers he did not know he needed a certificate because in Lithuania and Europe you didn’t need one.
‘The defendant said he did not know how to get rid of it and was worried it might explode or someone might find it if he disposed of it.’
In defence, Edward Hollingsworth, said Budrikis had never been in trouble and had never used the gun. ‘Since he came to the UK he has made a real go of being here. He is a highly skilled carpenter who is respected by all his peers. For a man like him to be here in court is extraordinary,’ he said.
‘To be given a gun in Lithuania over 30 years ago is very different to possessing one in modern-day Britain. There was no intent to bring the gun here - it just came over with his other belongings. It has never been taken out and used. It is in no way related to any criminality.
‘It has preyed on his mind. He is worried about what will happen to his children and wife if he goes to prison,’ Mr Hollingsworth added.
Judge Melville admitted it was a ‘very serious’ offence but told Budrikis he would spare him jail because his ‘record is very good’ and he had ‘no intent of using the weapon’.
Budrikis was told to complete 150 hours of unpaid work.