A judge has jailed a 74-year-old man for five years after 160 guns were found in his home.
The collection of weapons and ammunition was discovered following a house fire in Nelson Road, Gillingham, which happened at around 2pm on Sunday May 7, 2017.
Pensioner Paul Bushell was jailed at Maidstone Crown Court today (November 15) after he pleaded guilty to seven charges of possessing a prohibited weapon and six counts of possessing ammunition for a firearm without a certificate.
The court heard how Kent Fire and Rescue Service had attended the address to extinguish the fire which was caused by an electrical fault.
Having put out the fire which was in an upstairs study, firefighters discovered a number of guns and called Kent Police.
When officers arrived they found unlicensed automatic weapons as well as antique and replica guns which were kept loose in drawers within the study along with two guns which were seized from a cabinet.
Officers spent four days searching the property and found a total of 160 guns and a large quantity of ammunition, not only in the study but also in the loft and basement. Part-built firearms were also discovered along with component parts and live rounds.
A large number of guns discovered were loaded and ready to fire with others having been deactivated professionally and then reactivated unprofessionally.
Within the collection of firearms officers found a .303 British calibre Mk1 machine gun, a 9mm Luker calibre Sten Mk2 hybrid, 7.62 x 51mm calibre Armalite AR10 rifle, 9mm Luger calibre RPB Industries M10 sub-machine gun, 9mm Luger calibre Kommando semi-automatic pistol, a .62 x 39mm calibre AKM47 rifle and a 9mm Short calibre FN 1910 semi-automatic pistol.
Bushell was arrested following the discovery and charged with the offences on Friday September 15, 2017.
During the court case the judge heard Bushell had a keen interest in history and in particular the two world wars. He claimed he thought it was lawful to keep the antique guns but knew it was illegal to keep the rest. He also claimed they were for his own personal use and he did not intend to sell them.
As well jailing Bushell, the judge ordered the forfeiture of the weapons and ammunition.
Detective inspector Susan Smith, the senior investigating officer on the case, said: "Bushell had a staggering collection of guns which if they were to get into the wrong hands could have been catastrophic, and while our investigation led us to be satisfied that the guns were for his own use and not to sell onto criminals, it was still not only illegal but very dangerous.
"Today’s sentencing also highlights the importance of Kent Police’ current firearms surrender and I would encourage anyone who owns a firearm but no longer wishes to keep it to hand it in to their local police station or contact us via 101 to arrange for it to be collected.
"Bushell will now serve a lengthy prison sentence, something he did not consider when storing these weapons in his house and this should serve as a reminder to anyone who may have such a weapon without an appropriate certificate that this is a criminal offence and will result in a criminal conviction and most likely a jail term."