A judge has jailed a Todmorden man for five years after police officers attending the scene of a road accident found a loaded handgun in his 4x4 vehicle.
David Thomas, 55, who had his right leg amputated due to his drug abuse, admitted possessing the prohibited weapon, a Beretta semi-automatic pistol, as well as eight rounds of ammunition when he appeared before Bradford Crown Court.
Prosecutor Nikki Peers told the court that police officers went to the Woodhouse Road area of Todmorden on June 8 last year after Thomas’ Mitsubishi vehicle collided with a wall and rolled onto its roof.
As the officers retrieved Thomas’ personal possessions from the vehicle they found the loaded handgun in a holster under the driver’s seat.
Miss Peers said the handgun was “loaded and ready to fire” with live ammunition in the chamber and the magazine clip.
During the police inquiry Thomas told the officers that he had an ornamental AK47 assault rifle at his apartment in the nearby Woodhouse Mill complex. Mr Peers said Thomas had a number of previous convictions dating back to the 1980s and 90s including drugs offences, wounding and possessing offensive weapons, but his last conviction was in 2000.
Thomas claimed that he had only bought the handgun for £850 from a drug dealer so he could kill himself and the Recorder of Bradford Judge Roger Thomas QC had to decide if there were exceptional reasons not to impose the minimum jail term of five years for possessing the prohibited weapon.
Thomas said he became estranged from his family due to his criminal activities and his leg was amputated in 1992 due to his drug misuse.
After travelling to Spain he received help from a Christian rehabilitation unit and returned to the UK in about 2005 to work for their organisation in this country. But Thomas said his father and sister both died in 2012 and he began to misuse drugs again.
He claimed that he acquired the gun last year because he wanted to kill himself, but said he then realised that it was a stupid idea.
Thomas said he didn’t know how the Beretta pistol ended up in his car, but he remembered that he had been trying to think how to get rid of it. He said wasn’t thinking straight at the time and wanted to get the gun away from his home.
Judge Thomas said David Thomas had told officers at the accident scene that he had the handgun for “self protection” and to be careful because it was loaded. He didn’t accept the defendant’s explanation that he wanted the handgun in order to kill himself.
He said Thomas had an interest in firearms and he referred to a psychologist’s report which suggested the defendant was something of an attention seeker and a thrill seeker.
Judge Thomas concluded there was nothing exceptional about the circumstances which could justify a sentence less than the minimum five-year term.