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Monday, 01 September 2014

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Shotguns found at Carlisle scrap dealer's home

A scrap car dealer has been fined £2,000 after police found shotguns in his home and a can of pepper spray.

Fifty-year-old Michael Douglas, who started working for his father’s firm when he was just eight years old, used the guns for “shooting at foxes”, Carlisle magistrates court heard.

The court heard how Douglas, who now runs Mike Douglas Auto Salvage, which had a £1.5m turnover last year, used the guns to scare the animals away from Highland cattle on his 50 acres of land at Etterby.

Prosecutor Diane Jackson said police went to the house on February 13 on another matter and found one gun near patio doors, another under a bed upstairs and two in the attic. Cartridges were found in an empty wardrobe, plus a can of pepper spray.

Defence solicitor John Greenwood said Douglas was a well known man in the city. “He lives in an isolated area and foxes attack some of his Highland cattle and sheep on his land,” he added, saying he shot at them from a bedroom window. “The gun found near the patio door was 200 years old and he was restoring it,” he added.

Mr Greenwood said Douglas spent most nights “working on the gun, on his lap, watching TV on the patio”.

He said Douglas had a “passion for collecting guns and military memorabilia” and had a secure cabinet in the house for his guns but had been “a little careless on this occasion”.

He said he had held a shotgun licence for more than 30 years without any problem and the police were called to his “after a malicious allegation was made without any foundation”.

The pepper spray was bought several years ago for the family’s protection and would be outdated as it had a short shelf life. “[He bought it] after he was told his home was about to be robbed,” he said.

Magistrates warned Douglas, whose address was given as The Field, Etterby, that there were children in the house – one aged two and boys aged 14 and 17 – so they viewed the offences seriously.

His firearms licence was not revoked as there was no reason to find him unfit to hold one but is due up for renewal by police next year. Douglas, who admitted possessing a weapon – the pepper spray – and to failing to comply with the conditions of a shotgun licence, was fined £1,500 for the licence breach and £400 for the possession offence. He was also ordered to pay £85 court costs and a £120 victim surcharge.

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