A GUN fanatic who shot a cat and then clubbed it to death has been spared immediate jail for possessing illegal firearms.
Former JCB worker Clive Price had a gun disguised as a walking stick – described by the judge as “an assassin’s weapon” – among his prohibited firearms.
It was found along with a handmade pistol and a silencer during police investigations in to the shooting of the cat, Stafford crown court heard.
Price shot the animal out of a hawthorn tree at the Exeter Street allotments in Stafford,using an illicit air rifle – because it had been attacking some nesting birds.
“He fired [the air rifle] because he was angry with the cat and having severely injured it, he went and picked it up and killed it either by clubbing it or swinging it against a wall,” said Recorder Mr Stephen Linehan QC.
“It brought the police to his door and the search revealed the prohibited weapons.”
Price, aged 55, of Exeter Street, Stafford who admitted four firearms offences, could have faced a minimum of five years in prison.
But Recorder Linehan found there were “exceptional circumstances” not to send him to prison, because Price was a carer for his disabled wife.
He was sentenced to 52 weeks imprisonment suspended for two years and ordered to do 300 hours unpaid community work for the firearms offences.
Price also admitted the summary offence of causing unnecessary suffering to the cat and was given 18 weeks jail, also suspended for two years.
But the judge warned him: “In many respects you are a foolish man with an interest in firearms that a child or a teenager might exhibit. You better recognise … that you are going home now instead of going to prison. I suggest you rid yourself of anything that feeds that fascination – empty shells or whatever.”
The court heard that Price had decorated his motorbike to make the handles look like revolvers.
Mr Pat Sullivan, prosecuting, said the shooting of the cat on 18 May last year was seen by a member of the public and reported to the police, who went to Price’s home.
The air rifle used in the shooting of the animal had a muzzle velocity above the legal limit and required a firearms certificate which Price had not have.
But officers also found there a gun made to have the appearance of a walking stick, a handmade pistol and a silencer adapted to fit it.
Price was a skilled metalworker and had replaced the barrel on the ‘walking stick’. When questioned, he said the stickgun would have been used to “scare people if attacked by firing blanks”.
Mr Mark Nicholls, defending, said all the items had come from a shed belonging to his father, who had died in 1998, and he took them to his own workshop.
Price, a worker at JCB until he was laid off, was the main carer for his disabled wife and also helped to look after his elderly mother.