A FORCES veteran kept a sawn-off shotgun in his attic, knowing the weapon was being used in a violent turf war over drugs.
Chester Crown Court heard John McMahon, 66, agreed to hold on to the gun as payment for cannabis he smoked to ease the pain of his arthritis.
But the former Territorial Army soldier knew the weapon’s owner Joey Ward – the subject of an ongoing police investigation – was using the gun to threaten and intimidate his rivals.
McMahon, of Warwick Road, Blacon, admitted possessing a firearm with intent to cause fear of violence and possessing a firearm and ammunition without a licence.
The Recorder of Chester, Judge Elgan Edwards, jailed him for three years and said the consequences could have been “potentially dreadful”.
Simon Parry, prosecuting, said police raided McMahon’s home on November 13 and found shotgun cartridges in two bedrooms.
Specialist officers then conducted an in-depth search and discovered a dismantled double barrel Miroku shotgun hidden in a ruck sack in his attic, along with more ammunition.
Firearms experts put the gun – which had been shortened although not enough to be classed as prohibited – back together and confirmed it was fully operational.
“He accepted he had possession of the firearm and had been looking after it for a man he named as Joey Ward,” said Mr Parry.
“He believed Mr Ward had acquired the weapon because of an ongoing drugs feud.”
Mr Parry said McMahon told police he believed Mr Ward was using the shotgun to “threaten and intimidate” people.
He thought he had been asked to hold on to the gun because his age meant he would be unlikely to attract the police’s attention.
Among the ammunition recovered was a tracer rifle cartridge McMahon kept as a souvenir from his military days.
Howard Jones, defending, said his client had been “extremely foolish” in agreeing to hold on to the shotgun. He had been given cannabis in return for looking after the weapon.
Mr Jones his client was a carer for his wife and had the “good sense” to assist the police and plead guilty as early as he could.
“Mr McMahon accepts what he has done is extremely serious,” he said.
Judge Edwards told McMahon: “I am afraid this is a case that demands an immediate custodial sentence of some length.”
He said McMahon had in effect been “armouring” Mr Ward by keeping the weapon safe for him.
He said: “He knew who was the person who had this shotgun. He knew the purpose for which the shotgun was being used and would probably be used again.”
Judge Edwards said McMahon’s age and standing in the community meant he was the “ideal person” to look after the shotgun.
“There can be no and could be no lawful reason for shortening that shotgun as somebody did,” he said.
“Not only that, you knew what that person used it for.”