A MAN at risk of receiving a minimum five-year prison sentence for possessing a prohibited firearm is to explain to a court how he came to be in possession of the weapon.

Appearing at Durham Crown Court, accused Peter Bellis admitted a single count of possessing a prohibited firearm without authority.

The charge relates to the police recovery of a Brocock air gun, adapted with a self-contained gas cartridge system, on September 15 this year.

David Lamb, representing the defendant, told the hearing: “The court will be aware that the guilty plea which he has just entered has the potential of qualifying, under the provisions of the 1968 Firearms Act, for a minimum five-year sentence, unless there are exceptional circumstances.

“I would ask for the benefit of a pre-sentence probation report being prepared for the court and he may need to give evidence to the court as to how he came into possession of the weapon.”

Judge James Adkin said the defendant would be given an opportunity to give his account to the court over his knowledge and possession of the weapon, but he added that he did not believe it was necessary for the preparation of a pre-sentence report.

Bailing the 49-year-old defendant, of Castle Bank, Tow Law, to return to court on December 9, Judge Adkin told him his eventual sentence will depend on whether or not there are exceptional circumstances in his case.