A delivery driver caught up in a jealous friend's sinister plot to frame an innocent shotgun owner has been set free by top judges.
Daniel Macguire, 29, of East View, Murton, was mates with Dale Richardson, who resented his girlfriend's friendship with Mark Large.
Richardson knew Mr Large legally owned a shotgun, Mrs Justice Andrews told London's Appeal Court today.
And, on July 3 last year, he turned up at Mr Large's home and told him he would 'ruin his world'.
Richardson falsely reported Mr Large to police, saying he had menaced him with a firearm.
He said he had gone to his house and Mr Large had threatened to 'blow his head off' while holding a shotgun.
He told officers he then ran to his car, where Macguire was waiting.
As a result of the false report, armed police searched Mr Large's home and arrested him.
He spent the night in custody and was 'distressed' by the whole experience.
He was a man of good character who had help a shotgun licence for 15 years, said the judge.
The following day, Macguire was interviewed by police.
He backed up Richardson's story, saying he had seen a shotgun propped up against the wall in the hallway of Mr Large's home.
Richardson came back to the car 'distressed' and told him he had been threatened with a gun, Macguire claimed.
But police soon realised a high fence would have 'severely obstructed' Macguire's view of the house from a car parked outside.
And, in September last year, Macguire went to police and admitted what he had done.
Richardson had told him 'to play along with it' and he did not think of the consequences, he said.
Macguire admitted perverting the course of justice and was jailed for eight months at Newcastle Crown Court on May 24.
Mrs Justice Andrews said Richardson and Macguire's crime had led to a 'complete waste of police resources'.
It was also a 'very frightening' experience for Mr Large.
Richardson was also caged for eight months after admitting the same offence as Macguire.
But Jessica Slaughter, for Macguire, argued it was unfair the pair had received the same punishments.
Richardson had come up with the idea and was motivated by jealousy - while Macguire's was just 'doing a friend a favour'.
It was Richardson's false statement which had caused the victim the most inconvenience and stress.
Macguire had shown remorse and made 'full and frank' admissions to police.
He worked as a delivery driver and had responsibility as a carer for his mother, who was in poor health after a heart attack.
"We consider there is force in these submissions," said Mrs Justice Andrews, who was sitting with Lord Justice Lloyd Jones and Mr Justice Cranston.
"The judge should have drawn a distinction between the role played by the two defendants."
Macguire, who had already been released on home-detention curfew, had his jail term cut to four months.