AN Elvis impersonator from Cornwall has been jailed for five years for keeping a stash of illegal weapons at his home - including in a shrine devoted to the rock and roll star.
Derrel Weaver, 60, sparked a 24-hour armed police hunt when officers were called to an incident at his farmhouse in the village of Widegates on June 26.
Police closed a primary school, then surrounded and sealed off the village, near Looe, while Weaver was at large.
Officers searched Weaver’s home, 25-acre Higher Widlake Farm, and discovered nine unlicensed firearms, including two which were prohibited without the authority of the Secretary of State.
Exeter Crown Court heard the guns, such as a 1932 Webley and Scott .38 calibre revolver, were hidden in a cupboard in the eaves of his roof, and a bag in his dressing room.
Ammunition, comprising of 17 home-made shotgun cartridges and three short shot gun cartridges, was discovered in an upstairs room described in court as the “Elvis shrine”.
Weaver, who held a license for five other firearms kept in a locked gun cabinet, was arrested more than 24 hours after police began looking for him.
The lead singer of Elvis Presley tribute band DW and The Road Rockets, admitted 11 firearms offences and was jailed for five years.
Judge Simon Carr acknowledged Weaver had not used the prohibited firearms, which he inherited from his father who had served in the special forces.
The judge said he could impose no lighter sentence due to the “sheer number” of firearms at Weaver’s property and the insecure way they had been kept.
Prosecuting, David Evans said Weaver, who wore tinted aviator sunglasses in the dock, was of previous good character and had lived at the farm with his partner of 20 years.
Both were authorised to hold firearms, which they used to shoot animals at their property, with Weaver allowed five that were kept in a locked gun cabinet.
Police were called to the farm on June 26 and spent “some time” looking for Weaver, who was out shooting rabbits and foxes on the property, Mr Evans said.
“A Webley and Scott .38 revolver was found in a bag of paperwork in a dressing room by the main bedroom which Mr Weaver shared with his partner,” he told the court.
“A Hammer shotgun which had been shortened was found in a drawer of a cabinet also in the dressing room. Neither was loaded.
“Unlicensed firearms were found in a storage cupboard in the eaves of the roof off from a bedroom. Ammunition was found upstairs in an Elvis shrine.
“The defendant is an Elvis fan and spends a lot of his time as an Elvis impersonator.”
Weaver was arrested and in police interview, admitted keeping the guns and ammunition without a license.
He told police: “I couldn’t just get rid of them after Dad died.”
The tree surgeon insisted he had not used any of the illegal weapons and had made the ammunition from equipment belonging to his father.
He admitted two offences of being in possession of prohibited firearms without the authority of the Secretary of State and five counts of being in possession of a firearm without a certificate.
Weaver also pleaded guilty to two counts of being in possession of a shotgun without a certificate and two counts of possessing ammunition without a certificate.
Representing Weaver, Ali Rafati said his client had been “devoted” to his father and collected all his belongings from his mother when she went into hospital around eight years ago.
“His father was in the special forces and had collected firearms over the years, for example the pistol,” Mr Rafati said.
“That was made in the 1930s and had been in the family for several decades. Sometimes, after death any object at all associated with that person is so dear it is difficult to dispose of.”
Mr Rafati said Weaver had been in prison since his arrest and found it hard to live with deliberate criminals due to his “age and fragility”.
The judge also made an order that the guns be seized and destroyed.
Speaking after the sentence, Detective Inspector Ben Beckerleg of Devon and Cornwall Police defended the scale of the search for Weaver.
“At the time officers responded appropriately to a potentially dangerous situation,” he said.
“It was resource intensive and the public’s safety was paramount, and the incident was concluded safely without anyone being harmed.”