Dad-to-be jailed after holiday blunder sees him land at Newcastle Airport with weapons

Newcastle International Airport.

Newcastle International Airport.

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A dad-to-be has been put behind bars for five years after a holiday souvenir blunder.

Anthony Mason brought a stun gun disguised as an iPhone and an extendable baton back from a holiday in Bulgaria with his girlfriend to give as gifts to pals.

Newcastle Crown Court heard the 30-year-had not realised the items were illegal to possess in the UK or that firearms legislation meant he faced a mandatory five year minimum jail term for having a stun gun.

He said through his barrister that buying the items to bring back for friends was the "biggest mistake of his life".

Imposing the five year jail term, Mr Recorder Kelly said: "Such a sentence is undoubtedly harsh, let me make that clear, but it is intended to be with a view to deterring others, that is parliament's intention.

"It is not disproportionate, in my opinion, to the legitimate aim to deter people. It is merely harsh in relation to your particular circumstances."

Mason, of Laburnum Square, Trimdon Station, Durham, admitted possessing a disguised firearm and having an offensive weapon.

The court heard the couple had been stopped on arrival at Newcastle Airport last summer and Mason told customs officials what he was carrying.

He was arrested and told police he had bought the baton as a gift for a work pal known as 'Tom Thumb' and had planned to give his girlfriend's brother the stun gun.

Prosecutor Paul Rowland told the court: "He had no knowledge such items were illegal to posses."

The court heard Mason was completely ignorant to the five year mandatory minimum jail term.

Penny Bottomley, defending, said: "He was not aware of the minimum term, it came as quite a shock to him, as it does to many defendants.

"He said it was the biggest mistake of his life, he didn't know the weapons were illegal.

"He regrets he has brought such weapons into the country, is really sorry.

"All he wants to do is work to provide for his family and care for their first child when the child is born."

The court heard Mason has a good work record and is highly thought of by his employer.

His pregnant girlfriend and other supporters were in tears in the public gallery as he was led away to start his prison sentence.