A DUDLEY man found to have a gun by his sister as she was cleaning his home has been jailed.

The concerned sister immediately contacted police to pick up the lethal weapon and Paul Hassett aged 46, was arrested.

David Lees, prosecuting, told Wolverhampton Crown Court Hassett had a serious cannabis addiction.

He added Hassett told police officers one of his dealers had asked him to look after a package which was then buried in his back garden.

Hassett believed the package contained cocaine but when he dug it up and opened it he discovered the Russian made pistol 9mm and ammunition.

Me Lees said: "He was too scared to hand it in to the police so he put it in a bedroom cupboard where it was found by his sister.”

Hassett, of Cromwell Drive, admitted possessing a prohibited firearm and the ammunition and he was told by Judge John Warner that allowing such a weapon to be in circulation was "very dangerous."

He told Hassett it was clear he had a number of mental difficulties but he ruled there were no exceptional circumstances for him to impose anything other than the five year minimum sentence for the offences.

Andrew Fisher QC, for Hassett said the cannabis use by his client, a man of previous good character, had "clouded his judgement and his mental condition had been deteriorating.”

He told the court Hassett had lost contact with the drug dealer who had not come back for the package and, when he dug it up, he was surprised to find the gun.

The hearing was told it had been Hassett’s desire to dispose of the weapon but he was scared to go to police and there was no gun amnesty in operation.

Mr Fisher said: "His sister went to the house and when she started to tidy up she found the gun. She then called police to come and collect the weapon."

It was a very unusual case, maintained Mr Fisher, because the weapon had been volunteered to police and Hassett had no interest whatsoever in guns.

He said that since the offence Hassett had been making good progress to deal with his health and cannabis problems and he was now "a changed man."

Mr Fisher concluded: "He is, otherwise, a perfectly decent man whose judgement was clouded at the time when he agreed to store this package."