LEAVING an unlicensed shotgun stored in a wardrobe for more than a decade has landed one man in court.

James Tempest hid the shotgun at his home after when he stopped going clay pigeon shooting.

Teesside Crown Court heard it was discovered stashed away in a wardrobe at his Ingleby Barwick house when his former partner was picking up her belongings and she called the police.

Anthony Pettengell, prosecuting, said the shotgun was discovered in a bag at the rear of the wardrobe but there was no ammunition with the weapon.

He said: "The police were alerted about the shotgun in question by the ex-partner of the defendant. She returned to the address on May 9 of this year; she went there in order to pick up some belongings.

"She noticed a large Beretta carrying case which wasn't locked and had a shotgun inside.

"It had a cleaning rod and gun oil with it but no ammunition."

The gun was seized by police and Tempest was arrested.

Mr Pettengell added: "He said he had purchased the shotgun in the late 90s when he did have a shotgun licence and when he did do clay pigeon shooting.

"He said he had not disposed of the weapon because he didn't know how to dispose of it and claimed it had not been removed from the case while he was living on Teesside.

"He did have a shotgun licence until 2007."

Tempest, of Apsley Way, Ingleby Barwick, pleaded guilty to possession of a shotgun without a licence.

Kelleigh Lodge, in mitigation, said her client had not used the shotgun for a number of years and urged the judge not to pass an immediate custodial sentence.

The court heard how Tempest was self-employed and work hard to support his two children.

Miss Lodge added: "He is willing to work around any curfew because he is very concerned about a custodial sentence."

When asked what hours would be suitable for a curfew to accommodate his working hours, Miss Lodge suggested 9pm to 5am.

Judge Howard Crowson ruled out the possibility of a curfew under those terms, saying: "That is no punishment at all, it's just to get you to go to bed early."

Tempest was given an eight month prison sentence, suspended for six months and ordered to pay £250 towards the prosecution costs.

"We are dealing with a firearms offence, some are more serious than others, but there is no such thing as a firearms offence with no element of risk," he said.

"I'm satisfied that it wasn't for any illegal or nefarious intent."

The judge said he accepted that the weapon had not been used for a number of years and that there was no ammunition at the house.

Judge Crowson ordered that the weapon be retained by the police for them to dispose of safely.