A BASINGSTOKE man who bought an antique pistol and then text his brother saying he would use it on ‘rats and b***** foreigners’ has avoided an immediate prison sentence.

Simon Tustain, of Black Penny Lane, had been searching on the internet for antique guns, before travelling to an antiques emporium in Portsmouth and bought a pepper box pistol.

On April 18, last year, he messaged his brother: “Don’t tell mum I’ve got a gun for rats and b***** foreigners or whatever.”

Police were later called by Tustain’s family, officers attended his address where the 26-year-old handed over the firearm.

Following a trial at Salisbury Crown Court, Tustain was found guilty of possessing a firearm without holding a firearm certificate.

Today (Friday) he appeared at Winchester Crown Court to be sentenced.

Kerry Maylin, prosecuting, said: “There had been a call to the police from Mr Tustain’s family following a series of communication that he had acquired a pepper box pistol and ensuing conversations with his brother that caused his mother to be alarmed about it.”

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Ms Maylin said that Tustain, son of Basingstoke councillor Jacky Tustain, had “made utterances to his family about use [of the gun]”, but he also said that he was “keeping it as an antique and would have got a certificate if he had intended to fire it”.

During the sentencing, the court was told that Tustain had also researched how to make gunpowder and that he was only planning to use the gun at a firing range.

In mitigation, Graeme Logan, said: “It was kept within the family because very soon after hearing from the defendant’s mother police officers attended the address. That pepper box pistol had been purchased some days before and, of course, there is no suggestion that it was used or shown in any way to any members of the public.”

Mr Graham said that Tustain has had a “number of mental health difficulties over the years, exacerbated by drugs”.

He continued: “This is a young man who had and still has mental health difficulties which undoubtedly led him to making ill-judged decisions.”

It was not until September that Tustain was arrested after he returned from a four-week trip abroad. A “red flag” was raised and he was taken in for questioning, a court earlier heard.

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After arriving back in Britain, Mr Tustain was interviewed under the Firearms Act at Stansted Airport in Essex.

Following his arrest homes in Black Penny Lane were evacuated as part of searches carried out by Hampshire Police and Counter Terrorism Policing South East at his home.

During the trial Tustain said that the text to his brother was joke and he bought the gun as a “curiosity”, but this was not believed by the jury.

In sentencing, Judge Jane Miller said that reports found that Tustain had "no extremist ideation".

The judge handed Tustain a nine-month sentence suspended for 18 months, he must also complete 15 rehabilitation days and 150 hours of unpaid work.

Tustain was also issued with a forfeiture and destruction order for the weapon.