A convicted robber who was caught with an air gun and two CS gas cannisters in his flat has narrowly avoided an immediate jail term after a judge accepted he had an “immature interest in guns”.
John Goulding, of Dalton Square, Lancaster, received a six month prison sentence suspended for 12 months with a four month curfew, after admitting two counts of possession of a firearm.
Preston Crown Court police officers found two CS gas cannisters and a Crosman .177 air rifle in the 28-year-old’s home while he had still been subject to the restrictions from a suspended sentence imposed in 2014 for a robbery he committed the previous year.
Goulding, now a married father-of-three, admitted having the two canisters of CS gas during a police visit on April 30 last year, but insisted he had already been in possession of them before the robbery happened.
He began to cry in the dock as the court heard he told police officers he had thought he was able to buy the air rifle because people do not need a gun licence to own them.
The court heard as the five year exclusion period of his previous sentence had not expired he was still committing a criminal offence.
Police found damage caused by pellets in his flat from “shooting practice” with his friends. The court was told Goulding had intended to set up a shooting target at a nearby farm.
The Honorary Recorder of Preston, Judge Mark Brown, accepted Goulding had turned his life around and was receiving assistance from Strawberry Fields, a Lancaster based not for profit training scheme.
Sentencing him he said: “I’m prepared to accept you had both of these items because you had an interest in weaponry.
“I have come to this conclusion bearing in mind police also discovered two replica handguns which I have to say were very realistic. It’s suggested you had this weaponry to present a manly image to the outside world.
“I think you had an immature interest in guns quite frankly.”
He said he also bore in mind his previous sentence had almost expired.
Defending Goulding, Joe Hart said the weapons had merely been intended to “decorate” the flat.
On being shown photographs of the flat the judge remarked: “ It could do with a bit of a clean, not decorating. It’s a somewhat dirty flat.”
Mr Hart added he had been making considerable progress since the robbery and had become a “worthwhile member of the community”.
He told the court Goulding had suffered attention deficit disorder and was on antidepressant medication.
He added: “He’s a foolish young man and that was compounded by his ADHD.
“It’s not suggested the items were used in the course of any criminal conduct.”
The judge ordered the weapons to be destroyed and ordered Goulding to pay a victim surcharge of £100.