Aberdeen Pensioner faces jail over forgotten guns

A sawn off shotgun like the one pictured was found in the Aberdeen man's home. Picture: PA
A sawn off shotgun like the one pictured was found in the Aberdeen man's home. Picture: PA
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A PENSIONER with no criminal record has been told he faces a five-year jail sentence after guns were found “gathering dust” in his basement.

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

Officers carried out a search after he mentioned to someone that he had a sawn-off shotgun down in the “sunk”.

Watt, 76, admitted firearms offences, including possessing a prohibited weapon and possessing a gun while not holding a shotgun certificate, when he appeared at the High Court in Edinburgh.

Lord Burns told Watt “These are very serious offences. Parliament has dictated that unless exceptional circumstances exist, a minimum sentence of five years should be imposed.”

Advocate depute Susanne Tanner told the court Watt had no previous convictions and was the main carer for his wife, Patricia, who is registered disabled.

The prosecutor said in September last year, police received information that Watt had told another person he had a sawn- off shotgun. When officers searched his home, they saw a small room in the basement which contained weapons.

The weapons were sent for examination and the sawn-off shotgun was found to be capable of firing cartridges.

The prosecutor said the muzzle loading pistol was considered to be an “antique firearm”, and it could be freely possessed.

Defence lawyer Jonathan Crowe said that for a large part of his life, the retired heating engineer had been a gun enthusiast.

Mr Crowe said: “He has held firearms certificates.”

He said that, latterly, Watt had not been involved in “the gun scene” and had relinquished his firearm certificate.

About 20 years ago, a colleague, who knew of his interest in guns, offered him two shotguns. He took them home to examine than and found the bag also contained parts for a sawn-off shotgun.

Mr Crowe said Watt returned them to the colleague and said he didn’t 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 if he took them to the police.

He said Watt thought he would put them in his cellar and “forget about them”.

Mr Crowe added: “There is no suggestion the guns were recently used.” He said the guns had been kept in relatively secure conditions and there was little chance of them “falling into the wrong hands”.

Mr Crowe said “it may be apparent that to imprison a 76-year-old, who is a first offender, would be perhaps arbitrary and disproportionate.”

Lord Burns deferred sentence and agreed to bail Watt.