Derbyshire businessman gets suspended sentence after he had an unlicensed walking stick shotgun at home

Pictured is Derby Crown Court.
Pictured is Derby Crown Court.

A well-known Derbyshire businessman has been given a suspended prison sentence after he was caught with an unlicensed shotgun which was disguised as a walking stick.

Derby Crown Court heard on Wednesday, January 23, how Alan Bembridge, 67, of Newbold Back Lane, Chesterfield, was caught with the weapon among other certified shotguns in a gun cabinet when police searched his home.

Prosecuting barrister Sarah Slater said police visited the defendant’s son Andrew Bembridge who has a drug habit and they found the unlicensed walking stick shotgun in July, 2017.

Miss Slater added: “It was a search because of his son principally and while searching they went through bedrooms and in the master bedroom they found the gun cabinet - in the defendant’s and wife’s bedroom.”

She said there are seven shotguns with a certificate but police also found an ATB walking stick shotgun which was not certificated and had no exemptions to permit its possession.

Miss Slater added: “This is a disguised firearm and it would have been hard to tell if it was anything other than a walking stick.”

Police also found money in the gun cabinet which was confiscated from Bembridge’s son Andrew who had taken and used the gun cabinet key, according to Ms Slater.

Alan Bembridge told police the walking stick shotgun had been passed to him by his father and was a gift and a family heirloom.

The defendant, who runs shed and garage company Bembridges, on Lordmill Street, Chesterfield, pleaded guilty to possessing an unlicensed, disguised firearm.

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Defence barrister Julian King said: “The walking stick gun was given to him by his father and he kept it along time and it was secured in a gun cabinet.

“There was no suggestion at any stage that it was anything other than a shotgun.”

He added: “His understanding, which was wrong, was that it was an heirloom not to be used and it did not need certification and he continued under that misunderstanding for many years.”

The court heard that Alan Bembridge had owned the walking stick shotgun for about 30 years and he had held a certificate for a range of other shotguns for more than 30 years.

Mr King explained that Alan Bembridge’s son Andrew developed a drug habit and police found his drugs at the family’s shared property and found the walking stick shotgun during their search.

Ms Slater revealed that the defendant’s son Andrew Bembridge received a suspended prison sentence for possessing class A drugs.

Recorder Steven Evans sentenced Alan Bembridge to two years of custody suspended for two years for possessing an unlicensed, disguised firearm.

He was also ordered to complete 200 hours of unpaid work, pay £450 costs and he was told a victim surcharge would apply.