Kettering couple stored arsenal of weapons including HANDGUNS

They claimed they had them to protect themselves in case their home came under attack

Saturday, 25th January 2020, 6:00 am

A Kettering couple hid two illegal handguns in their home - after having one delivered by couriers DPD.

Police raided the home of Jack Belton and Grace Keenoo on September 5 last year as part of a fraud investigation but came across an arsenal of weapons.

On Thursday (January 23) Northampton Crown Court heard some were in plain sight, including a machete by the side of their bed, an axe and a large hunting knife found wrapped in a blanket.

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Grace Keenoo and the two guns recovered. No image of Belton was available.

But when officers started searching they found two prohibited handguns, with one hidden in a cistern, as well as a quantity of both blank and spent cartridges.

Prosecutor Anwar Nashashibi said there was "at least a very real risk that they would be used to injure".

Belton and Keenoo, both of Denford Drive in Barton Seagrave, said they had been arming themselves to protect themselves from criminals.

But Judge Michael Fowler said: "Nothing has been advanced as to why there would be such a threat."

The court heard that on at least one occasion mum-of-two Keenoo, who has previous convictions for ABH and assaulting a police officer, contacted Belton to ask how to use a gun.

The pair later admitted possession of a prohibited weapon although Belton, who once used a sock full of marbles as a weapon, claimed he thought it was legal to own the handgun.

Mitigating, Paul Prior said: "There's no doubt that he was in fear of attack on his home.

"Whilst he was appreciating this attack he bought what he thought was a lawful item using Paypal. He received it through DPD, the courier.

"He believed his possession of that item was lawful."

Handguns were effectively banned after the Dunblane school massacre in 1996.

Judge Fowler said it then became known to Belton that it was illegal but that he still retained them.

He added: "There is no evidence that there was any intent to take what would be the appropriate steps in relation to such a threat by notifying the authorities.

"The step that was taken was the arming of the defendant with two of these weapons."

Belton, 24, and Keenoo, 21, have been on remand since their arrest in September.

Mr Prior said Belton had suffered a hard time in custody as he felt he had separated their children from both parents.

Judge Fowler jailed Belton for 18 months. He will spend half in custody and the remainder on licence.

Keenoo smiled in the dock as she was handed a nine-month sentence, meaning she will be immediately released because of time spent on remand.

The pair embraced as they were led away by the dock officer. Custody images were not available.