Rushden man jailed for possession of a prohibited weapon - Luton

05/03/2014

Rushden man Francesco Conte was jailed for three years today, Wednesday, 05 March 2014, after a court heard how a prohibited weapon was found in a lock up garage he had been renting.

A workman sent to clear out the lock up in Station Road, Oakley in Beds found the weapon along with ammunition.

Luton Crown Court heard the weapon, a Webley and Scott 7.65 self loading pistol with a barrel, which was less than 30 centimetres, had belonged to Conte's father who had died back in 2000. The son, given the job of clearing his parents'  home following the death of his mum in 2003, had shifted their belongings into the garage and only discovered it himself in 2006. 

But Luton Crown Court heard today he had done nothing about it. Instead of reporting it to the authorities he had allowed it to remain there with the risk that had there been a break in, the weapon could have ended up in the hands of criminals.

Conte, of Midland Road in Rushden, had rented the lock up for many years, but after it fell into rent arrears, the tenancy was terminated last summer.

On 04 June last year a workman instructed by the landlords to clear the garage came across a stun gun and a BB gun. The following day the workman found the Webley and Scott self loading pistol along with 37 bullets which were compatible with it.

Police were subsequently informed and when Conte was arrested on 23 August last year officers found three cannabis plants growing in a cupboard under the stairs.

Today, the 52-year-old pleaded guilty to possessing a prohibited firearm, possessing ammunition without a firearm certificate, possessing the stun gun, which was also a prohibited weapon, and producing a controlled drug.

Judge Stuart Bridge, hearing the case, said he had found there were exceptional circumstances which meant he could sentence Conte to a shorter term in custody than the normal five year jail term for possessing the self loading pistol.

He jailed him for three years and ordered the forfeiture and destruction of both the pistol stun gun and ammunition as well as the cannabis plants.

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