NE Scotland, Orkney & Shetland

Pensioner who had guns 'gathering dust' in basement warned about jail

A 76-year-old Aberdeen first offender who left unwanted guns "gathering dust" in his basement has been warned he could face a five-year jail sentence.

Police found a corroded sawn-off shotgun, another shotgun in poor condition and an antique pistol at Richard Watt's home.

He admitted firearms offences at the High Court in Edinburgh.

Watt was warned only exceptional circumstances could prevent a minimum sentence of five years.

The court heard the guns were found in the former gun enthusiast's Corthan Crescent in September last year.

Defence counsel Jonathan Crowe said that about 20 years ago a work colleague of Watt, who knew of his interest in guns, offered him two shotguns.

He took them home to examine than and found the bag also contained the component parts for a sawn-off shotgun.

Mr Crowe said Watt returned them to the colleague and said he did not want them - but the colleague also did not want them.

The defence counsel said he knew he should have taken them to the police, but thought he might get himself or the colleague into trouble.

He said Watt thought he would put them in the gun room in his cellar and "forget about them".

He said they lay there gathering dust and added: "There is no suggestion the guns were recently used or fired."

'Wrong hands'

Mr Crowe said: "He did not know that the court must consider sending him to jail for a minimum of five years."

The defence counsel said he intended to make a plea that exceptional circumstances existed in the case which could allow the minimum sentence to be avoided.

He said the guns had been kept in relatively secure conditions and there was little chance of them "falling into the wrong hands".

He told the court: "There is no suggestion, other than the possession of the guns, that Mr Watt was in anyway involved in criminality."

Mr Crowe said that once background reports were available "it may be apparent that to imprison a 76-year-old, who is a first offender, would be perhaps arbitrary and disproportionate".

Deferring sentence, Lord Burns said: "Parliament has dictated that unless exceptional circumstances exist a minimum sentence of five years should be imposed."

The judge told Watt not to read anything into the fact that he had granted bail.

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