A DAD-OF-FOUR who kept a sawn-off shotgun and a revolver in his kitchen has been locked up for five years.
Burnley Crown Court heard how ex-soldier and heavy cannabis user Andrew Ratcliffe (31) was said to have hidden the pump action shotgun and live cartridges in a fishing bag at the family home. The revolver was in a drawer at the house in Elgin Crescent.
Ratcliffe, who kept dogs and was said to be keen on field sports, claimed he did house clearances and found the shotgun and ammunition not long before police turned up at the property.
He did not want to take it to the police station because of his criminal record.
The defendant, said to be a family man who had two jobs to provide for them, admitted possessing a prohibited revolver, possessing a sawn-off shotgun and 4oz. of cannabis.
The court was told the shotgun could carry four cartridges. The revolver was fired by a self-contained gas cartridge system.
Mr Jeremy Lasker (defending) said Ratcliffe found the shotgun in a house clearance and took it home. He did not fire it, but put a cartridge in the chamber.
“Rather than take it to the police station – one can perhaps understand his reticence given his record – he hid it in the kitchen,” said Mr Lasker.
Mr Lasker said 90% of the defendant’s convictions were from when he was in his late teens and just into his 20s when there were financial problems in the family and he went off the rails.
The defendant paid the price with nine months behind bars in 2002 and when he came out he committed further offences, two relating to the cultivation of cannabis. He had been quite a heavy user.
The barrister added Ratcliffe was in a loving and stable relationship of 15 years. Cannabis found by police was for his own use.
Sentencing, Judge Simon Newell told the defendant: “The only use for a pump action sawn-off shotgun can be a criminal use.”
The judge said, given Ratcliffe’s interest in field sports, he, more than anyone, would know the difficulties and problems occasioned by possession of sawn-off shotguns.
Judge Newell said the defendant had been “highly reckless” to keep the weapon with live cartridges in the kitchen when he had four children in the house as well as visitors and would have been out regularly working.
“Although you have pleaded guilty, when asked by the police where the gun had come from, you gave a rather nebulous explanation, no address, no names of people involved at either that address or with whom you were working at the time,” added Judge Newell.