A drunken man found collapsed in the street in Ravensthorpe with a gun in his pocket has been jailed for five years.
David Leslie Smith, 61, told Leeds Crown Court he planned to take the weapon to Dewsbury police station after finding it hidden in his home following a visit by his drug supplier and another man.
Giving evidence today (Friday) in a trial of issue after the prosecution claimed he had acted as custodian of the revolver, Smith said the two men came to his ground floor flat in Victoria Street, Ravensthorpe, around 10.30pm on February 10.
While the drug dealer chatted to him, he said the other man went out of the room for five minutes to the toilet.
He said his dealer spoke of going back to prison and of someone being shot but he did not ask him any questions. When the other man returned without the bag he had previously been holding “I thought there is something dodgy here” said Smith.
After the pair left he searched the flat and did not find anything. But around 5am he continued searching and then discovered the gun in a duster under a pillow in a panel in a hall cupboard.
He could feel what it was without uncovering it and realised from the weight it was real. He said he tried to get hold of the dealer the next morning and asked him to take it away but was told not to talk about it.
Smith said he started drinking out of worry and when the dealer had not come by the afternoon decided to take it to the police. By then he was drunk, stumbled and injured his head on a pole and ended up collapsed in Sackville Street.
Andrew Horton, prosecuting, said two officers found Smith there and were trying to help him but found the revolver and five cartridges, including one live cartridge, in his pocket.
The gun was in a poor condition and not full working order but could be fired by striking below the hammer.
Robin Frieze, representing Smith, said he had no record involving firearms and there was “no suggestion of any gangland activity.”
Smith admitted possessing a prohibited firearm and ammunition without a certificate.
Judge Neil Clark said it was a “sad situation” but there had to be a minimum sentence. He accepted criminals targeted vulnerable people to store items but on his own account Smith had knowingly acted as a custodian for some time after finding a “lethal weapon”.
Det Insp Mark Colman from Kirklees CID said: “Firearms have no place in our society and police in Kirklees remain committed to taking dangerous weapons and ammunition off our streets.
“If you have any information about the use or possession of a weapon or firearm in our community, we would urge you to call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.”