A VALUABLE collection of antique cowboy guns thought to be worth over £40,000 have been given to the Royal Armouries in Leeds.
The collection, which includes Winchester rifles and numerous pistols, were handed to the museum by police after a Wild West enthusiast failed to convince top judges that he didn’t deserve a five-year jail term.
Licensed firearms instructor Edmund Welsh, 48, from County Durham, was handed a five-year minimum jail term at Teeside Crown Court in December after pleading guilty to 13 counts of possessing a firearm.
Despite having a licence to keep guns, more than a dozen of the weapons were prohibited, because their barrels were less than 30cm long.
The hoard was discovered by police when Welsh ordered new parts for antique weapons from a manufacturer in the USA.
But judges at London’s Criminal Appeal Court refused to cut his term.
The court heard that Welsh made his own ammunition for the antique guns and had built a “shooting gallery” in his back yard.
The guns were displayed insecurely in his home, rather than being locked in a gun cabinet.
But a police firearms expert told the court that Welsh was a “harmless enthusiast”.
Refusing to cut the term Mr Justice King said: “He knew and understood the law - he could not consider himself above the law.
“This was a deliberate and prolonged breach of the law.
“There was recklessness about the way he handled his collection.
“Anybody who broke into his house would have access to a huge cache of lethal weapons.”