Gorleston man caught with two sawn-off shotguns jailed for five years

A man caught illegally possessing two sawn-off shotguns and ammunition claimed 'five minutes of madness' had left him facing five years in prison.

Police found the weapons hidden in Jayson Bowers' BMW car parked in a workshop he jointly owned in Great Yarmouth.

Rifle ammunition was also uncovered at the same building, with the 39-year-old admitting three firearms offences.

Norwich Crown Court heard yesterday Bowers and a friend found the weapons wrapped in a bundle while scavenging at a former potato factory site near Asda, in Acle New Road, Great Yarmouth.

The pair were trying to find materials to help kit out their new car garage business after running short on cash.

Bowers insisted he 'panicked' and the pair took the guns back to their car workshop, in Estcourt Road, after believing the items were either potentially valuable antiques or a danger to the public.

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The court heard the defendant also considered throwing the guns and ammunition into a river but rejected this as a sensible idea.

Bowers claimed he did not want to tell police about the discovery because he feared his criminal record would count against him.

But he was later arrested after officers searched the premises on October 6.

They found the two shotguns stored on the back seat and in the boot of Bowers' BMW car, along with shotgun shells.

Rifle ammunition was also found in the lock-up.

When asked why he picked up the weapons, Bowers said: 'I was totally inquisitive. One of the guns looked like an old replica. It looked like something out of a highway film.'

The defendant added he spent time cleaning one of the weapons along with his friend.

Ross Burrows, mitigating, said: 'Do you have any regrets?'

Bowers said: 'Total regrets. It was five minutes of madness and I will do five years minimum because I panicked.'

Martin Ivory, prosecuting, asked Bowers yesterday why one of the shotguns was stored in a camera tripod bag.

He said: 'The sawn-off shotgun fits rather nicely in to the bag. Did you put it in the bag so you could go out the lock-up and walk around wihout anyone noticing it?'

Bowers, of St Anne's Crescent, Gorleston, replied: 'Not at all.'

Mr Ivory continued: 'Why would you put a shotgun in a bag if it was going to remain at all times in the boot of the car?'

The defendant said: 'I didn't want it laying out, all eyes open.'

Bowers had pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to two charges of possessing firearms without a licence and one charge of possessing ammunition without a licence, which was related to the rifle ammunition and not the shotgun shells.

Mr Burrows attempted to argue there were exceptional circumstances to spare Bowers from receiving the minimum sentence of five years.

He said there was no evidence to suggest his client had been in possession of the weapons for more than three or four days since he found them.

Mr Burrows said: 'Given the fact he has had them for a matter of days, he was continuing to panic, he was totally unsure of what do with them, in my submission his mind must have been racing. He didn't know whether to go to the police, keep them, sell them, if they were antiques or what they were.'

Recorder Katherine Moore told Bowers: 'On the balance of probability I am unable to accept what you say about how you found the weapons, where you found the weapons or the length of time you held the weapons.'

Bowers received five years in prison for possessing the shotguns and a further two years for possessing the ammunition, to run concurrently.

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