A MAN who looked after a gun and bullets in exchange for having a debt written-off has been jailed for five years.
Police found a Webley 8mm pistol and two rounds of ammunition when they raided Paul Duffy’s house, after a tip-off in December.
Officers also discovered a prohibited CS gas spray and a small amount of amphetamine during the search at Warkworth Close, Washington.
Prosecutor Neil Pallister told Newcastle Crown Court the gun, which had been manufactured in Italy and adapted in the UK, was tested by experts who confirmed it had “lethal potential.”
The bullets were live and capable of firing.
Duffy told detectives he was looking after the firearm and ammunition in exchange for a drug debt being wiped out.
The 47-year-old said he had been due to give the CS gas spray to a young woman who was concerned for her safety due to the number of rapes in the Washington area, and wanted to carry it for protection.
Duffy admitted possessing a prohibited firearm, live rounds of ammunition, a prohibited weapon and a small amount of amphetamine.
Judge Brian Forster told him: “Anyone who has in their possession a prohibited firearm commits a very serious offence.
“Parliament has decided that judges must impose a minimum sentence of five years imprisonment in such cases and the reason is clear.
“There must be a deterrent sentence to ensure that people do not take such weapons into their possession.
“Weapons such as this are usually carried in offences of robbery.
“While they are carried there is a real risk of death or serious injury to those who may be the victims of such crime.”
Lee Fish, defending, said Duffy is in poor health and uses a walking stick due to back and leg problems.
Mr Fish said: “He was holding the gun for someone else. He has no previous convictions which involve weapons or firearms.”