A PENSIONER given just five years to live has been jailed for a year after admitting possessing a banned firearm.

Barry Haydon, of Oxford Road, Burford, was convicted of taking part in a conspiracy to smuggle £50m of cannabis into the UK in June 2010.

He avoided jail after a judge decided he had only played a minor role in the plot, but police raided his home and discovered an Enfield revolver, an air rifle and ammunition for another weapon hidden under the stairs.

On Friday, the 69-year-old appeared at Oxford Crown Court to be sentenced after a long delay, partly caused by police carrying out a detailed examination of the revolver.

Possession of such firearms usually carries a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in prison, unless there are exceptional circumstances.

Hayley Brickell, defending, said Haydon was suffering from non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and had been given a prognosis of five years to live. She said: “If he receives the minimum five years, there is a significant chance he would not survive until the conclusion of the sentence.

“These items were found in a concealed box beneath the stairs. They were in a shoebox bound with black gaffer tape.

“They were safely stored and not exposed to others. They were not in sight of anyone else and they were not taken out.

“There was no use of them by Mr Haydon and no intended use.

“No persons were threatened or put in fear and they were not used in any crimes,” she added.

She said her client had actually forgotten about the contents of the shoebox altogether.

The court also heard that the defendant had once legally owned a number of firearms, including a dozen shotguns and two rifles.

But in 1994 his licence was revoked by the Government after an altercation between him and his son, although charges were never brought.

Haydon claimed to have acquired the banned weapons at some point after 1994.

Judge Patrick Eccles said there were circumstances which allowed him to depart from the mandatory minimum sentence – but he still had to give Haydon a one-year prison sentence.

He said: “Parliament has taken the view that possession of these firearms is a very serious matter.

“That is to prevent such weapons getting into situations where other people who are criminally minded may use them and put the public in danger.”

The smuggling plot was uncovered when the UK Border Agency found 645kg of cannabis, worth £2m, hidden inside a lorry at Harwich Docks, Essex, in March 2010.