RESIDENTS have told of their shock after a huge haul of guns and ammunition was found at a flat in Southampton.
As reported by the Daily Echo yesterday, Peter Castle and Thomas Graham were jailed for a combined 13 years yesterday at Southampton Crown Court for 24 firearm and ammunition offences.
The haul, including a sawn-off shotgun and more than 1,500 rounds of ammunition, was seized from Graham’s flat in Albion Towers, Golden Grove.
Castle, 46, of Alder Road, and Graham, 43, of Golden Grove, both admitted eight counts each of possessing firearms and two counts each of possessing ammunition without a firearms certificate and a count each of possessing expanding ammunition.
Castle also admitted two counts of possessing ammunition when prohibited.
Local resident Paul Crossett, 38, from Golden Grove, said: “It’s very shocking – you don’t expect it in this country. I’m glad they’ve been able to take them off the street.”
Neighbour Bill Lockhead, 66, from James Street, added: “I am very surprised. It’s enough for someone to start their own war.”
The court heard how Castle, 46, received two holdalls containing the weapons from drug dealers he owed debts to.
Prosecutor James Kelland said: “He had run up a debt for cocaine and was given the guns by the people who gave him the drugs.
“But he was worried about having them at his flat where his mother lived so gave them to Mr Graham.”
The court heard Castle told his friend not to look in the bag when delivering it to his flat.
Graham later peeked in the bag and assumed they were “wrecked guns” because of their poor state.
Police raided the flat several weeks later on October 29 after seeing Castle visit earlier that day. Both Graham and Castle were arrested.
Barrister David Richards, for Castle – who has a string of previous convictions for assault, criminal damage and drugs possession – said his client had no choice but to take the stash from the dealers and said: “He wanted to get rid of it and he didn’t know what to do.”
Barrister Mark Ashley claimed his client Graham had very little involvement in the dealings and said: “The world of weapons isn’t him.”
But Judge Linda Sullivan, sentencing Castle to eight years and Graham to five, said: “Anyone attaining possession of them could endanger life and use them to threaten to kill and maim.
“The sentence imposed is to deter others from behaving in a way to cause danger to the community.”
Joan Fogerty, 75, from James Street, said: “It’s disgusting. You don’t expect it in Southampton and they should have more bobbies on the beat to stop it.”
Taha Ali, 38, from Golden Grove, said: “Guns should only be for soldiers or policemen. It’s very wrong people should have them.”