Six years’ jail over gun find

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THIS is the deadly sawn-off shotgun unearthed during a raid on a Sunderland home.

The weapon was discovered by police after officers stormed Kevin Hatton’s Chester Road home on the hunt for drugs, following a tip-off from residents.

But as the team were trawling his home on January 29 last year, they discovered the sawn-off shotgun hidden in his back yard.

The weapon is believed to have been stolen from a house in Hexham, Northumberland, during a burglary in July 2009.

Some time between then and the Sunderland raid, the barrel of the gun had been cut off to shorten it.

Hatton, 38, who later moved to Otto Terrace, Thornhill, was arrested on suspicion of being in possession of a prohibited weapon.

He denied any knowledge of the gun, claiming he did not know it was there.

But detectives launched an investigation and teamed up with forensic experts to provide evidence to connect him to the weapon.

Hatton, who has a string of previous convictions dating back to 1999 – including possession of drugs, offensive weapons, dishonesty and motoring offences – was charged and appeared at Newcastle Crown Court to deny the offence.

Last week, it took a jury just 15 minutes to find him guilty, with the judge describing the evidence that the gun was Hatton’s as “overwhelming”.

The Wearsider was put behind bars for six years.

Detectives today welcomed the sentence and said they hope it sends a tough message to other criminals, that weapons will not be tolerated on the streets of Wearside.

Acting Detective Chief Inspector Mark Ord, of Sunderland Area Command, said: “The sentence passed by the court clearly reflects the seriousness of the offence.

“Offences of this nature will always be treated seriously and every step taken to ensure offenders are brought to justice.”