A PENSIONER was jailed for three years after looking after a sawn-off shotgun being used in a drugs feud.
John McMahon, 66, of Warwick Road, Blacon, agreed to act as custodian of the weapon in exchange for cannabis to ease his arthritic pain.
But he knew the gun’s owner, Joe Ward, was using the weapon to threaten and intimidate his rivals.
McMahon pleaded guilty at Chester Crown Court to possessing a firearm with intent to cause fear of violence. He also admitted possessing a firearm and ammunition without a certificate.
Simon Parry, prosecuting, said a police raid last November initially uncovered shotgun cartridges and a live round of ammunition.
Specialist officers were called in who found a dismantled shotgun in a rucksack in the attic along with more cartridges.
Although shortened for ease of concealment, the double-barrelled shotgun was not a prohibited weapon.
Mr Parry said: “He had held it for the past month. In fact, three weeks previously he’d taken the weapon to Mr Ward on Mr Ward’s instruction and collected it back after a couple of days.
“He believed Mr Ward had acquired the weapon because of an ongoing drugs feud. He didn’t know if it had been fired by Mr Ward but he certainly believed that Mr Ward was using that weapon to threaten and intimidate other people.”
Mr Ward had been selected by the defendant because of his age and lack of previous convictions, knowing he was unlikely to attract the attention of police.
Among the ammunition found was a tracer rifle cartridge McMahon had kept as a souvenir from his Territorial Army days.
Howard Jones, defending, said his client had been ‘extremely foolish’ to look after the weapon. He had been ‘paid’ with cannabis which he used on occasion to ease the pain of his arthritis.
Mr Jones added: “He was rather naive with regards to the reasons that he was asked to look after this weapon.”
His client was a carer for his wife and concerned about the impact a custodial sentence would have on her.
Judge Elgan Edwards, Recorder of Chester, said it was ‘extremely sad’ to see a man in this situation given his standing in the community.
He gave him credit for his early guilty plea and having no relevant previous convictions.
But he said: “You were in effect using yourself as an armourer, prepared to provide this weapon on demand. You knew it would be used for crime, and violent crime at that.”