A man from Blyth who has been described as a firearms "nerd" has been jailed for five years after police found a prohibited pistol in his collection.
Former RAF volunteer service cadet officer Victor Tuff had held a gun licence for nearly 40 years until police revoked it in 2017 amid concerns when he fell out with neighbours.
Officers went to his home in April 2021 after a machine gun in parts, destined for him, were intercepted at Munich Airport, in Germany.
In a large wooden building at his home and in a motor home at his workshop in an industrial unit in Blyth, Northumberland, police found the pistol, along with gun parts and live ammunition.
Officers seized a 45 calibre self-loading pistol, a starter pistol, various types of ammunition, a frame and trigger mechanism for a Glock self-loading pistol, a bolt for a Uzi self-loading pistol and a conversion kit.
Newcastle Crown Court heard Tuff had held a firearms licence from 1979 until 2017, when it was revoked by Northumbria Police amid concerns about a situation he was in with neighbours.
The 62-year-old, of Millcroft Court, Blyth, who was one of the main contributors to a YouTube channel called "The Armourer's Bench".
He pleaded guilty to a series of charges relating to possession of prohibited weapons, and possession of ammunition without a certificate.
Peter Glenser KC, defending, said: "It's plain when the police stumbled across him they thought they had found some sort of underworld armourer but they had, in fact, discovered what might be described as a nerd.
"He is someone who always had a great interest in how things work - he is an engineer and likes taking things apart and finding out how they work.
"Hence the YouTube channel 'The Armourer's Bench'. He is an authority on what he is interested in. He is not going to rob banks or sell weapons to underworld groups. He is someone with a passion for firearms."
Mr Glenser said the mischief in the offending is the fact the items were stored insecurely as they might have fallen into the wrong hands.
He added: "He is a man of good character.
"He served three decades in the RAF volunteer service as a cadet officer and his service is well thought of. He has lived a wholesome and good life."
Mr Glenser said Tuff has depression and is "the most anxious defendant I've ever met" and was terrified about the effect going to prison would have on his wife, who is "pretty much housebound".
He said their dogs are like their children and one of them is due for treatment in Edinburgh for cancer and his wife can't take the dog on her own.
He urged the judge to conclude there were exceptional circumstances, given the harm prison will have on his wife, and to step back from the minimum five-year prison sentence which is in place for such offences.
But Judge Robert Adams said: "I'm afraid I've come to the conclusion, despite the significant mitigation, I don't consider that there are truly exceptional circumstances in this case."
The judge said Tuff had handed in illegal items when legislation changed following the Dunblane massacre but kept the self-loading pistol, which was the most serious offence.
He said: "He had a clear understanding of the position in respect of that weapon and he simply should not have had it. It's clearly unlikely he would have used it but the police had concerns in 2017.
Judge Adams added: "I don't think anyone would feel the defendant was likely to use a weapon but there's always the risk they would fall into other people's hands who may have a rather more sinister intention.
"The defendant described himself as a bit of a nerd and historian, not an underworld dealer. He accepts his collecting habit had spiralled out of control."
He told Tuff: "They are tough provisions - the intention is to deter people like you from holding onto, in this case, most importantly a handgun, potentially a dangerous weapon, particularly if it had fallen into the wrong hands, as you are well aware."
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