Last updated at 12:39 PM on 6th November 2011
An antiques firearms collector was jailed for two years after he was found to have four air rifles and ammunition without the correct licences.
When police raided Karl Blennerhassett’s luxury flat in Up Holland, West Lancashire, they found more than 140 guns, including racks of rifles and revolvers, a court heard.
Expert examination found that the vast majority were classed as antiques and legally owned but it was the other items which landed him behind bars.
Liverpool Crown Court heard that Blennerhassett, who works for his father’s tarmacking business, had previously held a firearms certificate.
However, it was revoked in 2008 after he was convicted and fined for failing to comply with its conditions.
Blennerhassett admitted possessing one air rifle without a certificate, which was just over the permitted velocity limit, and was convicted by a jury of illegally possessing three others which had been modified, and two charges of possessing a bullet.
‘Each of these three rifles are deemed specially dangerous under the legislation,’ said Judge Mark Brown.
‘Each was of high specification in that each had been fitted with a sound moderator and telescopic sight. Each had been modified and modified in a very professional way.’
The judge accepted that Blennerhassett had not modified the weapons himself but he did not accept that he had not known they were modified.
‘This is a serious case and I am satisfied you were deliberately flouting the provisions of the Firearms Act,’ he said.
The judge said Blennerhassett had decided to sidestep the legislation by having the air rifles modified so that it appeared they were legal when in fact they were not.
The police raid last December also uncovered what was described as an “air rifle kit” involving magazines, pellets and compression springs.
Karen Brooks, prosecuting, said her client was clearly a collector of antique firearms and that dozens of guns, as well as antique bullets, were on display at his home.
Nick Doherty, defending, said that there was ‘no suggestion of any nefarious use of any of these items.’
However, Judge Brown asked the prosecution to write to the Home Office expressing his concerns over the need for legislation for antique firearms.
‘I am concerned about guns falling into the wrong hands which can have lethal consequences,’ he said.
Referring to the fatal shooting of schoolboy Rhys Jones four years ago Judge Brown said, ‘One of the great tragedies on Merseyside involved an old firearm.’
He told 29-year-old Blennerhassett, ‘The control and regulation of firearms is an extremely important matter in relation to maintaining public safety.’
As Blennerhassett was led to the cells his live-in girlfriend broke down in tears in the public gallery.