MAN HAD 'UNHEALTHY OBSESSION WITH GUNS'
When police raided the Torquay home of a bus driver they found an arsenal of illegal weapons, some hanging on the wall and others hidden from view a court has heard.
At Exeter Crown Court the prosecution alleged that 53 year old Jeremy Couchman was a man with an 'unhealthy obsession with guns', and not the collector as he claimed.
Prosecutor Jonathan Barnes said among the weapons seized in the police raid were prohibited guns and others for which Couchman did not have a firearms certificate or a shotgun licence.
"We are not dealing here with an armed gangster or a man who sells weaponry. Mr Couchman has led a blameless life but his good character has nothing to do with this case," said the prosecutor. "We are dealing with the possession of guns which are prohibited by law and others for which certificates are needed. He did not have the relevant certificates."
The jury heard that while some of the guns were on display others were hidden, one in a pillow case on Couchman's bed. There was also ammunition that could be fired from some of the guns and all those seized were in working order when tested by the Devon and Cornwall police armourer.
Mr Barnes said in the case of one of the guns, a Derringer, Couchman had ordered ammunition from the United States. He also had a box containing a wide range of equipment for loading and firing guns.
"This is a man with an unhealthy obsession with guns and all too interested in their use and firing. If he was just a collector he could have had the guns deactivated," said Mr Barnes.
He told the jury that Couchman bought some of the weapons through a website from an American gun dealer in New Hampshire. The guns had passed through Customs labelled as antiques and Couchman was to tell police he believed that he was lawfully allowed to hold them without a certificate.
The prosecutor said under the law a person was entitled to have antique weapons as ornaments or for curiosity.
"The Crown says that is best described as the blunderbuss exception but that is not the case here," said Mr Barnes.
He said that some of the guns were over 100 years old but that did not necessarily make them antiques.
Couchman, of Tor Church Road, Torquay, has pleaded not guilty to a total of 18 charges. Eleven of the charges relate to possessing prohibited weapons; four to possessing weapons without a firearms certificate and one to possessing a shotgun without a licence.
Couchman has also denied purchasing or acquiring 50 rounds of .410 ammunition without a certificate and the alternative charge of attempting to purchase or acquire that ammunition.
The trial continues.