Police have said an arsenal of weapons illegally imported into a remote Highland village by a fanatic who watched Westerns with guns at his side could have ended up in the control of serious organised criminals.
Former Merchant Navy officer Robert Lockhart was jailed for four years at the High Court in Glasgow after being caught with a hoard of firearms and ammunition at his home in Appin in Argyll.
The chief of the National Crime Agency (NCA) said similar weapons were being used in “some of the most serious criminality in our communities”.
Detective Chief Inspector Graeme Naysmith said: “Buying or selling firearms in this way is illegal in the UK – regardless of your intentions – and extremely reckless given the fact that some imported weapons can end up being used in serious organised crime.
“Robert Lockhart attempted to bypass the law by bringing dangerous firearms into this country.
“There is a perception that organised firearms crime is an urban issue but Lockhart’s conviction shows that offending of this nature will not be tolerated, wherever you are in the country.”
The 50-year-old was caught after a parcel containing a handgun sent to his cottage from the Czech Republic was intercepted.
Police and the National Crime Agency seized six more handguns, a shotgun and ammunition.
Last month Lockhart admitted 15 firearms offences and two customs offences.
His counsel, advocate Tony Lenehan, said of cruise ship engineer Lockhart: “He has a fascination with guns. He would sit on a Saturday watching Westerns with guns at his side, which perhaps is childlike.”
Jailing him, judge Lady Stacey said: “What the police found was the guns, none of which was capable of being fired, but which could be modified, and some ammunition, some blank and some not.
“I have no information why you had these other than a fascination with guns. These guns were not kept securely. You showed the police the arsenal you had.
“I have to take a serious view of this. Such weapons unmodified can be used to frighten people and modified they can be used to kill and they may be stolen by other people.
“Gun control is an important matter and you have blatantly breached it.”
Advocate depute Allan Nicol said Lockhart showed police his attic, which had been converted into a shooting rom complete with targets.
Police also seized ammunition and flares.
Mr Nicol said: “He stated he enjoyed shooting from an early age and that he was a collector.
“He said he held firearms and shotguns legally for 10 years without issue.
“He went on to say he applied for a shotgun and airgun licence in 2017, but it had been refused.”
Lockhart claimed he had the flares for using on his boat.
NCA regional head of investigations for Scotland, Rob Burgess, said: “The reason they are illegal is that many can be converted into fully functioning weapons, and we know they are being used in some of the most serious criminality in our communities.
“There is a strong link between illegal drugs supply and the use of firearms for example, with criminals seeking them to intimidate rivals and enforce control of their operations.
“Tackling the importation, supply and use of illegal firearms is a key priority for the NCA and our partners, and through the Organised Crime Partnership we are determined to do all we can to protect the public from the danger they bring.”