A north-east man who has legally owned a gun for the past 30 years had to forfeit his rifle and ammunition after a house move blunder.
John Buchan appeared in Peterhead Sheriff Court yesterday to admit breaching the conditions of his firearms certificate by not safely storing the gun and ammunition.
The 69-year-old – who used the weapon for vermin control, forgot to lock the gun cabinet at his new home as he had “101 things to do”.
He also carelessly left ammunition in a kitchen drawer.
The court heard that police officers had made contact with Buchan, of Abbey View, Old Deer, the day before to review his firearms certificate.
Procurator Fiscal Felicity Merson told the court: “The following day, September 27, 2018, officers came to get the weapons and found the keys were in the door of the cabinet the rifle was meant to be secured in and the door was open.
“The ammunition box at the top of the cabinet was also open and had 7.2 magazines in it, ready to be clipped into the gun.
“In addition, there was further ammunition found in the kitchen in an unlocked drawer.”
She asked the sheriff to bear in mind that courts usually order a forfeiture of all items in matters like these.
Buchan’s defence agent Sam Milligan explained to the court that the cabinet was actually in the loft space, accessed through a hidden hatch and by a ladder.
Mr Milligan told the court that Buchan had moved house and set up this secure storage, notifying the licencing authority as he was required to do.
Following the inspection by the authority, which went “without difficulty” Buchan left the cabinet open and with the keys in the locks as “moving in, there were 101 things to do”.
Mr Milligan said: “For background, my client is 70 this year and has held his firearms certificate for 30 years without incident.
“The purpose of him holding the rifle was vermin control as the address is rural and as a direct consequence he has had the license for three decades.
“If a forfeiture is considered I ask for there to be no fine as the financial loss of Mr Buchan’s items would be around £1,000 – the loss of certificate and four-figure financial loss could suffice.”
But Sheriff Christine McCrossen kept her focus on the seriousness of the matter and the consequences Buchan’s actions could have had.
She said: “I take into account what you say about this being the only incident in 30 years but these matters are serious so I have to give a fine here.
“I will set the fine as a modest one of £200 considering the circumstances and that you pled guilty at the earliest chance, as well as imposing forfeiture of all of your items.”