A MUM from Basildon is the first person in the country to have been spared jail for possessing a gun.
Tamasin Mott, 48, found the First World War pistol, belonging to her late father while clearing out his home about four years ago and had kept it locked away in a safe.
However, in January, her estranged husband told Essex Police she had the weapon, after a bitter row over their divorce.
Officers raided her house and found the gun, along with ammunition.
Mrs Mott was then arrested and charged with possessing a firearm without a licence.
Yesterday at Basildon Crown Court, Judge Owen Davies QC said Mott’s case had “exceptional circumstances” and decided to waive the usual automatic fiveyear jail sentence.
Instead he handed her an 18- month prison sentence, suspended for 12 months.
Judge Davies said: “This is an unusual case.
“You have no previous convictions and your friends and neighbours and have provided an extraordinarily high collection of praises. A collection not seen often in a criminal court.
“I do not see that there is much likelihood of you being convicted of any further offence.
“There is no single case that legal counsel can find where someone has not been imprisoned for possessing a fire arm without a certificate.
“But there is also no case the authorities have been able to find which matches this one.
“Had you been more thoughtful of the draconian measures that possessing a firearmwould bring, you may not have kept it.”
The court heard Mott’s father, Mr Webster, was a war veteran who had served in the Scots Guards.
Sometime in the Seventies, he had gone to a pub in Essex tomeet other former soldiers and swap war memorabilia.
The court heard he had been given a silver, Spanish, 7.65 calibre pistol by another veteran in exchange for a few pints of beer.
Mr Webster had taken it home, showed his wife and then hidden it in a cupboard under her sewing basket.
The court heard Mr Webster died in 1981 and the gun remained hidden in the sewing until 2010 when Mrs Webster decided to move house.
Mott found the gun, which she believed to be a family heirloom, and told her mum she would look after it at her home in Basildon.
Mott locked it in a safe at her home along with the family’s passports.
The court heard at some point she lost the key to the safe and the family forgot all about the gun.
On January 6, Mott and her husband Frank, who are going through a divorce, had a row about the electricity bill.
Mr Mott drove to Basildon police station and told officers his wife had threatened to shoot him and she had a gun in the house.
Officers raided the house.
Mott told them she had her father’s old pistol in a safe. but she had lost the keys.
The fire service was called and officers managed to crack the safe.
Forensic tests by a firearms expert found the gun, made in Spain in about 1914, had not been loaded or fired for a long time.
The court heard Mott had subsequently moved out of the family home with her 12-year-old child after allegations of domestic violence.
Judge Davies accepted the gun had been kept by Mott as a family heirloom and there was never any intention for it to be used.
At the end of the hearing he ordered the gun be destroyed.