POLICE found an antique revolver hidden among a stash of cannabis when they raided a teenager’s home in Leeds.
John Payne was spared a minimum three-year jail sentence usually handed to a minor caught in possession of a firearm after a court heard the weapon was 150 years old and would normally be classed as a “curio”.
Payne, who was aged 17 at the time of the offence, was sent to a young offenders’ institution for 12 months after pleading guilty to possession of a prohibited weapon and possession of cannabis with intent to supply.
Police executed a search warrant at Payne’s home on Kentmere Approach, Seacroft, on June 3 last year and found the Colt .38 calibre revolver along with 47 bags of cannabis, which had a street value of £337.
Adam Birkby, prosecuting, said the gun was made in 1861 and the bullets for it was obsolete, having last been produced in 1940.
Mr Birkby said: “In the opinion of the police experts this firearm was an antique, or it would be if it was possessed as a curio or an ornament. But in this case it wasn’t.”
Mark Foley, for Payne, now aged 18, said his client had been threatened and told to keep the gun and the drugs by people he had previously bought cannabis from. He had the gun and had the drugs expecting them to be collected. He tried to phone those people responsible for them. He had been acting in fear and under duress.
Mr Foley said the gun had no bullets and ballistics experts had to use ammunition from a historical store to test the weapon.
Referring to the weapon, he said: “It had a use. Whether that use was more in terms of an imitation firearm we do not know.
“The gun as an antique has considerable value. There is nothing to suggest that this gun was being held for anything other than a criminal purpose. I do not argue anything else on his behalf.”
Recorder of Leeds, judge Peter Collier QC, said “exceptional circumstances” meant he would not impose a three-year sentence but said the offences were so serious they had to be marked with immediate custody.