Glasgow & West Scotland

Hugh Hunter jailed over huge weapons cache in Lanarkshire

A former army sniper who was caught with a cache of firearms and ammunition at his home in South Lanarkshire has been jailed for five years.

Hugh Hunter, 58, admitted 10 firearms charges after the haul was found at his house in Libberton on 8 August 2013.

The High Court in Glasgow heard the cache included a British Forces pistol, a World War II rifle and 3,500 bullets.

Hunter was caught after two men reported that he may have been carrying a weapon while walking his dog.

The 58-year-old told police he was not planning anything illegal and had only bought the arsenal to keep it away from gangsters.

'Implausible' story

Hunter said he "feared for the wider community" and had planned to safely dump the guns and ammunition before officers raided his home.

Jailing him, Lord Turnbull told Hunter: "Firearms of this sort are deadly and can fall into the hands of others for the most serious of criminal purposes.

"I regard it as implausible and incredible that you purchased them because you thought they were a danger to others and wanted to dispose of them."

The judge said he instead believed Hunter bought the haul due to his long held "interest" in weapons.

The court heard that a team of 14 officers - including a firearms unit - raided the house Hunter shared with his wife.

It emerged he had served with the Territorial Army's Lowland Infantry in the 1970s and 80s.

He told police that he had been a fully trained sniper and firearms instructor.

At the time of the search Hunter was also a registered shotgun holder.

Officers soon seized other items which were illegal to have.

'Strange selection'

Police found a loaded Iraqi self-loading pistol in a safe as well as an air-cartridge revolver.

A World War II bolt-action rife was discovered elsewhere in the property along with a silencer and thousands of bullets.

One expert who later examined the haul described it as a "strange selection" and that there was no "rhyme or reason" for what Hunter had.

The court heard the Beretta-style pistol found had "never been in the country as a legal firearm".

It emerged that the "most likely scenario" for it being in the UK was that it had been brought back from Iraq by British Forces.

The revolver was a type of airgun that had been banned in 2003.

The bolt action rifle - described as a "very accurate weapon" - was an old military firearm, but was in working order.

The court heard Hunter had a total of 3,548 of varied types of bulleted cartridges. Some included ammunition that expands on firing making them even more dangerous.

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