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27 July 2011, 12:04 | Updated: 27 July 2011, 12:08
A 16 year old boy caught with a loaded sawn-off shotgun, used to blow a hole in a house's front door, has been sentenced to three years in a detention centre.
The teenager told police that he was not at the scene of the shooting in Dunstable Road in Luton on Friday 29 April 2011, but had been handed the weapon nearby to 'keep it moving'.
He said he was too afraid to refuse or name the young man who gave it to him.
Prosecutor Beverley Cripps told Luton Crown Court that there was no evidence available to the prosecution to dispute the defendant's account.
The Luton youth pleaded guilty to possessing a prohibited weapon - a sawn off double barreled shot gun. When it was recovered it had one live and one fired cartridge in the barrels.
Judge Michael Kay QC said he was passing the mandatory minimum sentence of three years detention.
Miss Cripps said there had been an ongoing dispute between two groups of Asian males.
In the early hours of the morning the brother of one of those involved was asleep at home with his wife and two young children when he heard an extremely loud noise downstairs.
"He saw a hole in his front door 60 cms wide and thought a petrol bomb or the like had been put through the door," said Miss Cripps.
She said one police officer who was in the area saw the defendant in Beverley Road who immediately ran off into the recreation ground.
"The officer gave chase and by the light of his torch saw he was holding a gun or dark object. He continued the pursuit and when he caught up with him the item was no longer in his hands.
"He retraced their steps and found the weapon abandoned on the field."
Laurence Aiolfi, defending urged the court to find there were exceptional circumstances which could avoid the mandatory minimum sentence being passed.
"He was in the area by chance and was entirely surprised to have the gun foisted upon him. He was put in a difficult position and made the wrong decision but that was through his immaturity, the pressure on him and panic.
"But he has an attitude that gives hope that he would respond well to guidance. He knows this is serious."
Judge Kay told the teenager: "It was your job to take this gun away from the scene. You do not wish to name the person who gave it to you.
"You may very well have been afraid of him. But when police arrived instead of handing it over to them you made off. Recently your life has taken a turn decidedly for the worse, but I am told there is hope for you and you show signs of understanding the error of your ways. I sincerely hop that is the position."