Man aged 74 jailed after 160 guns are found at his home in Kent

Firefighters discovered collection of weapons when they were called to tackle blaze at Paul Bushell’s home.

A pensioner has been jailed for five years after 160 guns were found at his home.

Paul Bushell was sentenced on Wednesday morning after pleading guilty to seven charges of possessing a prohibited weapon and six counts of possessing ammunition for a firearm without a certificate, Kent police said.

Firefighters discovered the collection of weapons when they were called to tackle a blaze at the 74-year-old’s house in Gillingham at about 2pm on 7 May.

Kent fire and rescue service called in police after extinguishing the flames caused by an electrical fault in an upstairs study.

Officers spent four days searching the property, finding 160 guns in the study, loft and basement.

Many of the guns were loaded and ready to fire. The hoard included machine guns, rifles such as an AKM47, revolvers, semi-automatic pistols, shotguns, replicas and antique guns, some of which were stored in drawers.

Police also found 126 rounds of ammunition and part-built firearms.

Bushell said he was interested in history, particularly the world wars, and claimed he thought it was legal to keep antique guns, police said.

He told officers he did not plan to sell the guns.

Judge Philip Statman, sentencing at Maidstone crown court, ordered that the weapons and ammunition be destroyed.

The senior investigating officer DI Susan Smith said: “Bushell had a staggering collection of guns which if they were to get into the wrong hands could have been catastrophic

“While our investigation led us to be satisfied that the guns were for his own use and not to sell on to criminals, it was still not only illegal but very dangerous.”

Sarah Dineley, of the Crown Prosecution Service, said the dangers of keeping unlocked guns in a house regularly visited by children were obvious and serious.

She added: “Had the property been burgled, they could have easily fallen into the hands of criminals.

“They also posed a serious risk to the firefighters who attended the home, given the weapons were recovered from inside the fire-damaged room.”

A gun amnesty is running in Kent until 5pm on Sunday 26 November.

Those who surrender firearms to police stations during this period will not face prosecution for illegal possession and can remain anonymous.

Source: Theguardian