A COTSWOLD dad of five was jailed today for 21 months for firearms offences.

Daniel Smith, 28 of Cedar Road, Mickleton, pleaded guilty on what would have been the first day of his trial at Gloucester Crown Court.

He admitted possessing a double-barrelled shotgun and a single-barrelled shotgun between August 22 and August 31 last year without certificates.

Smith also admitted the sale or transfer of the weapons to someone who was not a registered firearms dealer or who possessed a certificate on August 30.

He claimed that he found the guns “stashed” in a rural location when he was out walking his dog. It was an explanation that the judge described as 'bordering on laughable.'

Two others involved in the case, Shannon Smith, 28, of Bush Court, Cheltenham, and Christopher Reynolds, 29 of Priors Road, Cheltenham, have admitted their roles and will be sentenced on May 17.

Prosecutor James Haskell said the weapons were stolen during a burglary of Granbrook Farm in Mickleton on August 17 last year.

“The prosecution do not say that he was responsible for the burglary, but he came in to possession of the shotguns shortly after the burglary,” the barrister said.

“He agreed to sell the firearms to Christopher Reynolds, who is the partner of Shannon Smith,” Mr Haskell said, adding there was no relation between the two Smiths.

Judge Ian Lawrie QC heard that analysis of telephone evidence showed messages exchanged between Reynolds and Daniel Smith.

One read “I will buy as many of them things as you can get Dan.”

Mr Haskell said this was 'clearly a reference to the firearms'. He said that a price was agreed of £200 for the two guns.

The prosecutor again pointed to telephone evidence that showed both Reynolds and Daniel Smith were in the same location on 30th August, when Smith travelled from Mickleton to Cheltenham at 9pm.

He said that was when the exchange took place.

After that date the prosecutor accepted that Daniel Smith played no further part in any offending relating to the firearms.

Mr Haskell said that when Reynolds was arrested an iPhone was seized and examined.

“A deleted image, that was recovered by the police, was taken on 31st August. It shows the two stolen shotguns in an outbuilding at Shannon Smith's address,” he said.

When the police searched that address on 15th September, the double-barrelled gun was found hidden behind a bath panel.

“It had been sawn off,” Mr Haskell said.

The judge said the 'clear inference is that the shortening was done by Mr Reynolds.'

Mr Haskell replied “there is no evidence he [Smith] knew it was going to be shortened.”

“That is the danger of passing stolen guns on,” the judge said. “It was not for sporting purposes!

“He is part of the chain of how these firearms become part of the criminal world.”

The judge noted that the single-barrelled shotgun was “recovered from shrubbery in a Toby Carvery.”

The court heard that Daniel Smith had ten previous convictions, which the judge summarised as “pretty low grade, although irritating.”

Smith's lawyer, Sarah Jenkins, said “it was never in his mind” that one of the shotguns would be shortened and used for crimes, but “he doesn't shy away from that.”

“It is conceded that there will be an immediate custodial sentence,” she said.

Mrs Jenkins said that Smith was the father of five daughters, aged between 11 and 4.

She said that his wife had recently been diagnosed with cancer and would have to undergo surgery.

Mrs Jenkins said that at the time of the offence, Smith was not working, and saw the opportunity to make some money by selling on the guns that he had found “stashed” away in a rural spot.

“It was by chance that he came across these weapons and sold them,” she said. “There was no plan for a repeat.

“He thought he could make a couple of extra pounds for his family.

“He found them stashed; hidden in a rural countryside area, plainly where someone would come back for them. He was walking his dog.

“He tried to find someone to buy them, and that was how Christopher Reynolds came to have his phone number and contacted him,” the lawyer said.

Judge Lawrie said that Daniel Smith's previous convictions showed 'middling criminality of no great skill or ambition.'

“This is a significant step up,” the judge noted. “My concern is that for relatively modest amounts of money you were prepared to pass on stolen shotguns.

“I find your explanation for finding them whilst walking your dog bordering on laughable.

“The reality and danger is that when shotguns form a commodity, they are beyond the reach of the the police and can be used for serious offending.

“You are going to pay a price for it,” the judge said as he imposed the total sentence of 21 months imprisonment.

“Serve your prison sentence. Care for your wife,” the judge said as Smith was taken down to the cells.