A man with an interest in militaria who lived alone with his cats has been jailed for five years for possession of a prohibited firearm.
Counter-terror police were initially involved when Clinton Hicks was arrested at his home in Lowestoft, Suffolk, last year, prosecutor William Carter told an Ipswich Crown Court hearing, held over Skype on Friday.
Suspicions that 59-year-old Hicks might be involved in terrorism “fell away during the investigation”, Mr Carter said.
Judge Emma Peters, sentencing, said Hicks showed the arresting officers an item wrapped in black plastic – a revolver – and told them “you will be looking for this”.
He admitted at an earlier hearing to possessing a prohibited firearm, the item seen by officers at his home in Normanhurst Close on July 28.
It was described in the charge as a BBM Bruni Model 380L revolver which had a barrel of less than 30cm in length and was less than 60cm long overall.
Mr Carter said Hicks bought the revolver from a Spanish company in September 2018 and “no product would have been sold by them with a clear or unobstructed barrel”.
Mr Carter said the revolver was modified at some point between its purchase and Hicks’s arrest, adding that there was no evidence on who did this, but Hicks – who served in the Territorial Army for 10 months in the 1980s – “would be as well placed as most”.
He said the revolver could only fire blanks, but “it would be possible to put blank cartridges into the chamber with a projectile in front of them”.
“That would lead to the blank acting as propellant for the projectile placed in front of it,” he said.
The revolver was therefore a “lethal barrelled weapon”, Mr Carter said.
Edward Renvoize, mitigating, told the hearing Hicks said he had post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and heart problems, and had had a “deeply-troubled upbringing”.
Mr Renvoize said the revolver “isn’t a reliable firearm”, adding: “This was purchased as part of his interest in militaria, a hobby, an unusual hobby though that may be.”
Judge Peters said the revolver was “certainly capable of being fired in a lethal context”.
A psychological reported showed “some oddities” with Hicks but there was no verification of his PTSD claim, she said.
“Essentially you’re a loner, a relatively strange man of 59 living with your cats,” she told Hicks.
Jailing him for five years, Judge Peters said she found “no exceptional circumstances” to cause her to deviate from the statutory minimum term of five years which is intended to serve as a deterrent.