A HEROIN addict who ran away with a sawn off shotgun, which his friend had just killed himself with, has been spared being sent to jail.
Joseph Wood was living on North Street in Warsop Vale when his friend Michael Travis took his own life at the property on 11th February.
It is believed Mr Travis had bought the weapon several days earlier to protect himself from the threats of a drug dealer to whom he may have owed money, Nottingham Crown Court was told on Friday.
But after Mr Travis had taken his own life in front of his friend, Wood (32) panicked and packed the weapon and three cartridges in a rucksack and left the house on a bicycle.
Wood, who had handled the gun previously and feared his fingerprints would arouse suspicion from police in relation to Mr Travis’s death, then contacted his former girlfriend - and met her and her mother in car on a Warsop street just minutes after leaving the house.
The police were then called by the mother of Wood’s ex-girlfriend and he explained to officers what had happened before cycling on with the rucksack and its contents to his own mother’s house.
Wood was arrested on suspicion of murder, but the charge was dropped after a pathologist’s report had concluded Mr Travis had taken his own life.
His solicitor Adrian Langdale told the court that Wood, whose charge was reduced to possession of a firearm, had been traumatised by the shooting and became worried that he would be accused of murder by police officers.
“There was no great thought process, if he had had the chance to think about it the logic would have been not to touch the gun,” he said.
“His thought process was destroyed by the trauma he had just witnessed, he was asking his ex-girlfriend and her mother what he should do.
“But as soon as his head is starting to clear he tells the police where the gun is - the weapon was on the streets for a matter of minutes before it was returned to the police.”
Mr Langdale said it would be unfair for Wood to receive a lengthy jail term for such an ‘exceptional case’.
“He was in custody for three days accused of murder and that issue is significant mitigation,” he added.
“The police even congratulated him on his openness and frankness.”
The sawn off shotgun was later recovered by police and has now been destroyed.
Judge Michael Stokes, the Recorder of Nottingham, said it would be absurd to give Woods a lengthy jail sentence.
“What concerns me is that you knew about the gun for a few days before but your overpowering addiction made it unlikely that you would do anything about it,” he said.
“But it is accepted by the Crown that there are exceptional circumstances in this case - a five-year jail sentence will not apply - that would be arbitrary and unjust.”
Judge Stokes said that he had taken into account the short time that Wood had the gun in his possession, the circumstances of the possession coupled with his co-operation with the police and his early guilty plea.
Wood was given a 12-month jail term, suspended for two years, as well as a supervision requirement and a nine-month drug rehabilitation requirement.