Man jailed after gun and bullets found at his home

A MAN has been jailed for two and a half years after a jury decided a 100-year-old gun found at his Yorkshire home was not a "curiosity or ornament" as he claimed.

Had the jury accepted Desmond Browne's account it would have meant he could legally possess the Smith and Wesson gun without a firearms certificate, an exemption stemming back to the 1920 Firearms Act but they found him guilty of possessing a prohibited firearm.

Police recovered the Smith and Wesson gun at the home of Browne in Shaw Leys, Yeadon, Leeds, in April last year following a "stand-off" for several hours involving armed officers after a call from a neighbour.

While officers were waiting outside, one keeping watch at the back of the property, saw Browne open a skylight window and push a package out on to the roof which slid or rolled into the gutter, David Hall prosecuting told Leeds Crown Court.

The same officer subsequently saw Browne with something like a silver pole pushing at the package, he could not tell if he was trying to recover it or push it off the roof.

After a representative of Browne's solicitors attended to help with negotiations he gave himself up and the package was later recovered. The gun, manufactured between 1898 and 1907, was found inside wrapped in an orange sock or hat and taped in a plastic bag.

In a locked cabinet in a different part of the house five live .38 bullets were recovered which could have been used in the weapon, which was in working order.

Mr Hall told the jury when the Firearms Act was updated in 1968 the exemption for old guns which were "owned, acquired or possessed as a curiosity or ornament" continued.

"We say Browne has latched on to that now in desperation because of the serious case brought against him."

Browne, 57, said he had been given the gun by his father and never intended to use it.

After the verdict Mark McKone defending Browne said there was no evidence the gun had been used for any criminal purpose.

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