Hartlepool pensioner Rodney Jones, 74, made hundreds of road trips across war torn Eastern Europe with clothes donated by the British public and married a Romanian nurse.
But when customs officers raided his storage unit in Stockton on July 1, 2019, they found a 9mm Heckler and Koch pistol, two shotguns, ammunition, £26,000 in cash and 45,000 cigarettes and rolling tobacco.
In his home and car they discovered Skunk cannabis and cannabis resin plus a .410 double barrel shotgun and gun parts in his bedroom
Jones claimed that the guns had been donated with parcels of clothes and that he intended to hand them in during a firearms amnesty.
But the Crown did not accept his story, Teesside Crown Court was told.
Jones, who is terminally ill from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and is dependent on carers and oxygen, appeared by videolink lying on his bed at home.
His lawyer, Robert Mochrie, said that he had only months to live and he asked the judge to spare him from prison as an exceptional case.
He said: “You are dealing with a man where the likelihood of him committing any further offence during the course of his life is negligible.
”He appreciates that he is nearing the end of his life and he now has less than 12 months to live.”
Paul Mitchell, prosecuting. said a doctor appointed by the Crown had examined Jones and had agreed with defence medical reports.
Jones, of Pine Grove, Hartlepool, was sentenced to two years jail suspended for 12 months after he pleaded guilty to possession of a self-loading rifle, a sawn off shotgun, gun parts and ammunition, possession when prohibited by a previous conviction, two offences of possession with intent to supply cannabis and fraudulent evasion of duty on tobacco products.
Judge Howard Crowson told him: ”You are ill and terminally ill.
”Were you to be sent to prison it would not only cause hardship but enormous problems and expense for the authorities.”