AN “unofficial caretaker” stashed two old German CS gas canisters in a drawer.
Police discovered the illegal weapons when they went to Stuart Turnedge’s home looking for someone else, Hartlepool Magistrates’ Court was told.
The officers found the rusty old weapons stuffed in a drawer of the house in Amberton Road, in the Dyke House area of Hartlepool.
And 40-year-old Turnedge said he had come across the items – which had German writing on – when he was clearing out a flat for the owner of the property five years earlier.
Prosecuting, Tahira Bouchier, said: “Police attended the flats in Amberton Road with the intention of carrying out a search of the lower ground flats.
“The defendant confirmed there had been another male living there but had since left.
“Having searched the property officer found two CS canisters in a drawer in one of the rooms and the defendant was arrested for possession of firearms.
“The canisters were tested and a firearms expert confirmed that they were prohibited weapons.”
She added: “He was interviewed by police where he explained that he was the unofficial caretaker for the house acting for the care of the owner of the property. He said that when a flat is abandoned he tends to clear the flats out.
“He said he found the two CS gas canisters during a clear-out. He fully accepted what they were used for.”
Turnedge, who has 56 offences on his record, pleaded guilty to possession of a firearm for the discharge of a noxious gas on September 21.
Mitigating, Neil Taylor said his client accepts that he should have handed the weapons in to police, but simply put them in a drawer where they had been for five years.
They had never been taken out to use as weapons.
Mr Taylor said: “The police went to his house looking for someone else and Mr Turnedge said to them ‘help yourselves’, completely forgetting what was in the drawer.
“Basically a man found them and decided to keep them. What he should have done was said ‘I’ve found these’ and handed them in. He has had them in excess of five years. They are very old, the expert even says the writing on them is in German and has been rubbed off the canisters.”
Chairman of the bench Martin Slimmings sentenced Turnedge to a six-month community order with £85 costs.