THE BOSS of a scrapyard has been jailed for five years for possession of an illegal weapon.

Tommy Smith, 41, pleaded guilty to possession of a prohibited firearm at Burnley Crown Court yesterday.

His wife Mary Smith, who was also due to stand trial over the firearm, had all charges against her dropped when he entered his guilty plea.

The court heard Smith got hold of the weapon after threats from a rival family at a boxing event in Penrith.

Smith, his wife and their sons had travelled to the event on June 2 when an incident occurred with a rival group, leading to Smith fleeing back to his home in Meadow Street, Great Harwood.

Prosecutor Francis McEntee said: “A number of people arrived at the boxing event and staff at the venue were led to believe they were in possession of firearms. It was also apparent to staff at the event that Smith and his associates were panicked by the arrival of the group. Mrs Smith was also concerned, stating at the event that the group were all ‘tooled up’.”

The court heard how Smith contacted one of his associates back in Great Harwood who located a firearm and brought it to him. Smith returned to Penrith on the following morning.

Mr McEntee  said: “After meeting with his associate in Great Harwood, Smith travelled back to Penrith, arriving back at the venue of the boxing event in the early hours on Sunday morning. He then shortened his stay at the event, withdrawing his boys from the event and travelling back to Great Harwood again.”

Police, who were aware of tensions at the event, tracked Smith and his family down as they were travelling back to their home and a short police chase, which involved a helicopter, ensued.

They later found the sawn-off shotgun inside a BBQ located inside Smith’s property.

Simon Czoka QC, defending, said that Smith had requested a gun for his family’s safety in a ‘moment of desperation, poor thinking and poor judgement.”

He added: “He thought that if things did get out of hand and the rival gang did come armed, he may have something to deter them. The last thing he wanted was for the weapon to be used.”

Judge Jonathan Gibson said: “You attended the event near Penrith where you felt intimidated and you were concerned that they may have had firearms. Another man arranged for a gun to be at your premises.

“I accept you did not handle the gun but you did possess it. I sentence you on the basis that you did not take the gun to Penrith and that you didn’t know it was loaded. The fact it was loaded is an aggravated feature."