A 74 year old, self-proclaimed history buff, has been jailed in the UK when his collection of nearly 200 firearms was discovered after a fire at his home.
Paul Bushell’s collection was discovered by firefighters back in May when his home in Gillingham, Kent caught fire, while he was at a friend’s 70th birthday lunch. On hearing about the fire he allegedly told a friend “I have done something wrong. I might be in a lot of trouble.” It took police teams four days to complete their search and catalogue approximately 160 firearms and a stock of ammunition – luckily, none of which was touched by the fire.
Senior Investigating Officer, Detective Inspector Susan Smith said: “Bushell had a staggering collection of guns which if they were to get into the wrong hands could have been catastrophic”
The impressive cache of weapons included everything from 19th century pocket revolvers to an Ingram M10 submachine gun, a Sten gun, various patterns of AK and even an Armalite AR-10. None of the guns were secured in cabinets or safes and they were found throughout Bushell’s home – some of them loaded.
Bushell, a grandfather and a regular volunteer with the charity Samaritans, pleaded guilty to seven offences of possessing prohibited weapons and six of possessing ammunition without a valid firearms certificate. His family said that his collection had grown to become an obsession but that he had no connections with crime or the dark web.
The sentencing judge told Bushell “‘You did everything you could to enhance your collection without due regard for the real importance of complying with the law,” concluding that “It doesn’t take an enormous amount of imagination to see the risk that would take place within the community as a whole if your home had ever been burgled.”
Despite his defence pleading for a lenient sentence due to the defendant’s advanced age, it seems the judge felt Bushell had to be made an example and was sentenced to five years in prison – the minimum for the offences committed. Despite the likely destruction of some of Bushell’s collection Kent Police hope to retain some for museum display.