A MAN found with a stun gun disguised as a mobile phone hidden in his kitchen has been jailed for three-and-a-half years.

But Ian Paul avoided a mandatory five-year sentence after a judge accepted he had found the weapon, had not used it and has issues, mainly brought on by his drug use.

Police had gone to the 49-year-old’s Park North bungalow on March 4 on another matter when they found the banned weapon.

Tessa Hingston, prosecuting told Swindon Crown Court an officer found the device wrapped in a cloth in a crevice next to the extractor fan.

At first he thought he had found a phone but he noticed two metal prongs sticking out at one end while the screen was a sticker and the buttons wouldn’t depress.

She said he pressed the on/off button and noticed a strong electrical current arcing between the terminals.

When he was questioned Paul made no comment but when he appeared on court he claimed he had found the weapon while out walking his dog.

Giving evidence he said a couple of weeks before he had been in a field close to his home when he saw what he thought was a mobile laying in the grass.

He told a judge he picked it up with a view to selling it on or using it and then, when he realised what it really was, meant to hand it in but forgot he still had it.

After taking it home he said he realised some friends were at the door and fearing they would hurt someone with it he hid it, he told the court.

Paul, of Dulverton Avenue, Park North, pleaded guilty to possessing a disguised firearm.

Emma Handslip, defending, said her client had many issues, especially with his memory, and his sister has power of attorney over his financial affairs.

She said many of his problems, including a personality disorder, were thought to stem from his drug use, which had started when he was just 13.

He is dependent on opiate-based medications, she said, and was concerned about losing his tenancy at the home where he has lived for the past eight years.

The court heard while he had a number of previous convictions the only one for violence was a common assault when he threw a toy at a council worker.

Judge Jason Taylor QC said he accepted he had found the device but not that he had intended to hand it in and forgot about it.

He said “I accept that you picked in up out of curiosity rather than any malevolent intent. You had not used it. You had not intended to use it.

“Whilst you knew it was illegal to posses it you had no knowledge of the extent of illegality. I do not accept you intended to hand it in.”

Explaining why he did not impose the mandatory sentence the judge said higher courts had made it clear sympathy for offender was not a good reason.

He said he was shortening the sentence as the mandatory five years would be ‘arbitrary and disproportionate’.

The judge found it was not a lethal weapon, wasn’t used, his intent picking it up was not malicious, he has no history of violence or weapons.