A "CAREER criminal" from Huddersfield who was found with a loaded gun has been given an automatic life sentence.
Bradford Crown Court was told yesterday that in January, Paul Higgins, 36, of Leeds Road, Bradley Mills, was stopped by police in a car which had been reported stolen.
When they searched the car they found a loaded handgun under a seat. Tests showed Higgins's fingerprints on the magazine.
Although he denied possessing the gun a jury found him guilty.
It then emerged that in 1991 Higgins was convicted of possessing a firearm.
On that occasion police found an automatic pistol at his home.
Higgins's latest conviction meant he qualified for an automatic life sentence.
Despite submissions by a his barrister, Jason Pitter, Judge Peter Benson said Higgins was a substantial risk to the public.
Under the terms of the life sentence Higgins will not be considered for release by the Parole Board until he has served at least three years behind bars.
Judge Benson stressed that the three years was the minimum period and that any release date would depend on the Parole Board assessing the risk that Higgins was to the public.
The court heard yesterday that Higgins had a series of convictions for offences, including affray, assault and burglary.
Judge Benson said Higgins could be categorised as a career criminal.
On previous occasions Higgins had wielded a machete during a disturbance outside a nightclub and during another incident he was found to have had a knife in a car.
Judge Benson said no explanation had been given why Higgins had the loaded gun when he was stopped.
He added that circumstances of the case painted a very disturbing picture.