AN INTERNATIONAL clay pigeon shooter was found to have a firearm and ammunition without a licence.
Geoffrey Hughes, of Oaklands, Bangor-on-Dee, was properly licensed to hold guns and ammunition and had represented Wales in his sport for many years, a court heard.
However, an oversight led him to breach the law, he had too many cartridges and one gun had been modified for competition purposes, which meant it should have been registered.
Simon Parrington, defending at Mold Crown Court, said Hughes had lost his job and his good health as a result.
Shooting was his life and he was worried the police would not renew his shotgun certificate.
But in the unusual circumstances of the case, Hughes, 55, was given a 12-month conditional discharge with costs of £365.
Judge Niclas Parry said he trusted the sentence imposed would be a matter taken into account by those who would deal with his firearms certificate in the future.
The judge said Hughes was a competitive shot who had represented his country and who had the highest regard for firearms regulations and the law.
But he found himself in the crown court for breaching those regulations.
“I sentence you on the basis that you were not careful enough,” the judge told him. “It is not because of any disregard for the legislation.”
Hughes, said the judge, understood the importance of gun controls more than anyone and there was no question of the items being kept for criminal purposes.
It had been an oversight, an error.
He should have been more careful and now through bitter experience learned that lesson, the judge said.
But it was an exceptional case.
He was a man who had acted out of character and his punishment had been more than reflected in the health problems he suffered and the loss of his employment.
The court heard how for many years he had been licensed to hold weapons for competitive purposes.
There had been a malicious complaint about him which led to a police raid in the search for illegal weapons at his home.
The investigation showed he had legally held weapons and one weapon required to be registered because of the adjustments made to it for competitive reasons.
Hughes had not appreciated that at the time.
He was allowed to have 1,000 rounds of ammunition – but was found to have 280 more than he should have.
The court heard he had lost his job as a construction site manager and the stress had caused him to suffer a heart attack in the middle of last year, which had delayed the proceedings.
Mr Parrington told how his life had been turned upside down.
He was a man trusted with weapons, was fully aware of the legislation and the need for safety as a man who regarded shooting as his life.
Hughes had recently found another job as a site manager but he feared that the police would now revoke his certificate.
The judge said it was not a matter for him, but it may be that the sentence he had imposed could be taken into consideration when the police came to deal with the issue of his firearms certificate in the future.