Former councillor spared jail after police found two shotguns when called to disorder at his home

A councillor was caught with two shotguns when he went into "meltdown" during a family dinner and the police had to be called to his home.

Tuesday, 10th August 2021, 3:58 pm
Jeff Milburn leaves South Tyneside Magistrates Court for possesion of firearms.

Jeffrey Milburn had the firearms, along with 205 shotgun cartridges, air weapons, swords and machetes at the house he shared with his wife at Sunnisde Lane, Cleadon in March last year.

Newcastle Crown Court heard when police arrived at the house there were "broken plates, cups and the remains of a chicken dinner on the kitchen floor".

Prosecutor Joe Culley told the court Milburn, who was drunk, had started acting "erratically and aggressively" and his daughter, who was "distressed", rang her brother for help at around 10pm.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Jeff Milburn.

He added: "He was in the dining room holding an air pistol. He was agitated and making threats of self harm.

"The son approached him, grabbed the gun and threw it.

"The defendant then grabbed an unsheathed sword and the son grabbed it from him and instructed the wife and daughter to leave.

"The defendant armed himself with an air rifle, using it to damage glass panels. He discharged the air rifle in the porch."

The court heard by that time, Milburn's daughter had dialled 999 and the police arrived not long after.

Milburn, 62, admitted possessing a firearm in relation to two shotguns that were seized.

One was a single barrelled folding gun dated between 1898 and 1924 and one was a double barrelled hammer shotgun from 1887-1896.

Both were in poor but working condition.

The court heard Milburn had a shotgun certificate from 2012 but it was revoked in 2015 due to "public safety" concerns.

Milburn also pleaded guilty to possessing a bladed article five days after the incident at his home, when police saw him driving his Porsche motor in Northumberland and feared he was intoxicated.

He was arrested and surrendered a 3-5inch swiss army knife he had been carrying when he was taken into custody.

Milburn, who represented Cleadon and East Boldon as an independent conservative councillor on South Tyneside Council, was disqualified from his role this summer, as a result of his convictions.

Judge Penny Moreland sentenced him to 20 months suspended for two years with rehabilitation and an order to pay £1,670 costs.

Judge Moreland said: "I accept you had not yourself used either of those weapons for criminal purposes but you must understand the risk unlicensed weapons pose.

"Had two unlicensed weapons found their way into the criminal community they would be capable of causing serious harm to the public."

The judge added: "You need to understand the law applies to you in the same way it applies to everyone else."

She said a pre-sentence report said Milburn had "exhibited a sense of entitlement" to the probation service and blamed the police for targeting him and claimed he had done nothing wrong.

Christopher Morrison, defending, said the shotguns were antiques and were kept for display purposes only.

Mr Morrison said Milburn, who previously "enjoyed a high standard of living" but was "financially ruined with substantial debts", was having "something of a meltdown that day".

Mr Morrison said: "There is room here to encourage his reform.

"He has given his life to public service and that is no longer open to him."

Support our journalism and subscribe to this website to enjoy unlimited access to news, sport, retro, daily puzzles and more online. With a digital subscription, you can read more than five articles, see fewer ads, enjoy faster load times, and get access to exclusive newsletters and content. Click ‘Subscribe’ in the menu to find out more and sign up.