A sentimental grandson who kept a World War One German Luger pistol under his sofa has been spared jail after a Judge was told it was a family heirloom.
Keep fit fanatic Christopher Jackson was found with the 1917 self loading pistol in his bedroom alongside a hoard of air weapons which had been stolen from an Adventure Centre days before.
The 9 mm Luger is a prohibited weapon which made him liable for a mandatory five year jail term but he escaped with a suspended sentence after a Judge at Exeter Crown Court ruled it would be disproportionate to impose it.
Jackson, aged 25, told Judge Jeremy Griggs the gun was brought back from the trenches by his great grandfather and given to him as a memento of his maternal grandfather, who he was very close to.
He said he had no idea it was illegal to keep the gun, he had no ammunition for it, and he did not believe it was a viable weapon.
Former boxer Jackson, of Chudleigh Road, Kingsteignton, Newton Abbot, admitted having a prohibited weapon, handling nine air guns and pistols, and an unrelated offence of assault causing actual bodily harm. He was jailed for two years, suspended for two years.
The judge told him:”The possession of a prohibited weapon is regarded by the courts as extremely serious with a minimum term unless there are exceptional circumstances.
“This weapon could easily have come into the hands of others if your home had been burgled and could have been put to use.”
Miss Janice Eagles, prosecuting, said police searched Jackson’s home after nine air weapons worth £1,900 were stolen when a secure cabinet at the Essential Adventure activity centre at Coleshayes Park, Bovey Tracey was broken into in September.
Six of the guns were found and officers also discovered the Luger pistol in an Asda bag under the sofa in his bedroom. He said he had bought the stolen guns in a pub and the Luger was left to him by his grandfather.
A police firearms expert discovered the Luger could not be fired in the condition it was found, but could be repaired by the purchase of two parts.
Jackson was bailed and attacked a stranger in the Enigma night club in Newton Abbot four days later after a brief exchange of words at a pub earlier.
He struck a powerful blow to the back of the head which left blood seeping from a perforated ear drum and left him needing hospital observation for three days.
Mr Kevin Hopper, defending, said:”The Luger had been in his family for almost 100 years and was given to him by his grandfather. He kept it in a shoe box. It was not capable of being fired and he did not believe it was illegal to possess it.”
He called Jackson and his father to confirm the origins of the gun. Jackson told the judge:”It was given to me by my grandfather who died four years ago.
“As a child I was told stories about it and he got it from his dad who served with the British Army in World War One. He brought it home as a memento and gave it to his son.
“I kept it in a box with the rest of my grandfather’s possessions and beside it was a bayonet passed down in the same way and a Union Jack flag.
“The Luger was not in working order. My granddad and I used to play with it when I was a child and I don’t think he would have done that if it could do any