A LOADED shotgun and ammunition found hidden in a dog kennel have landed a man behind bars for seven years.
Dean Botham, aged 30, was arrested and charged after police raided his home on Southey Green Road, Shiregreen, Sheffield, and found a sawn-off shotgun, 23 shotgun cartridges and one round for a revolver.
They were wrapped up and hidden in a rucksack in his dog kennel.
Botham initially denied knowing anything about the firearm. While on remand at Doncaster Prison waiting for his case to reach court he got a fellow inmate serving 10 years for armed robbery to take the rap for the gun.
Romus Smith, 34, of Cotleigh Crescent, Hackenthorpe, called South Yorkshire Police from prison to confess to owning the gun.
He was already behind bars for being one of three robbers who held up the Co-op on Devonshire Terrace, Dore, in December 2010, where shop workers were threatened with two machetes and forced to open safes before being tied up.
The thugs got away with £4,800.
But police found Botham’s fingerprints on the packaging around the gun - and he finally pleaded guilty on the day he was due to stand trial.
He was jailed for seven years after admitting possessing a firearm, possessing ammunition and attempting to pervert the course of justice.
Smith was jailed for a further 12 months after admitting perverting the course of justice.
Det Insp Graham Bulmer, who led the investigation, said: “When the firearm was found there was a cartridge in it ready to go.
“There were another 23 cartridges with it and evidence that one of them had been fired.
“There was also a live .44 round for a revolver.
“It was discovered when we executed a search warrant looking for stolen property after receiving intelligence he may have been involved in burglaries or handling stolen goods.
“Although we were never able to prove why he had it - because during interviews he always denied all knowledge of how it got there, saying anyone could have placed it there - the discovery of the firearm means there is one less in circulation now.”
DI Bulmer said tests have been carried out on the firearm but the weapon has not been linked to any crimes where guns were fired.
Police are appealing for anyone with information about people with guns to come forward.
“Gun crime remains rare in Sheffield, but it is important to get as many firearms out of circulation as possible,” DI Bulmer added.
“This proves that if we get intelligence from the public we will act on it and carry out search warrants to try to find these weapons.”