Armed police rushed to a pub car park on a Sunday evening after receiving reports that three men in a car had guns.
The officers surrounded the white BMW that was parked at the front of The Warden pub/restaurant in Barton Road, Luton at 7.40pm on Sunday, January 8.
Inside were three members of a travelling family from Potton – the driver Frank Smith, 29, his father Albert, 60, who was in the front seat and brother Paul, 27, who was in the rear.
Prosecutor Azza Brown told Luton Crown Court the police asked the men to raise their hands so they could see them. Frank Smith raised his, but put them back down on two occasions and was arrested first.
The police recovered two shotguns from the car and found that Frank had 7.2g grams of cocaine in a knotted sock found on the car floor.
All three men, from Common Road, Potton, appeared for sentence, having pleaded guilty to two counts of possessing a shotgun without a certificate. Albert and Paul pleaded guilty to possessing a shotgun while forbidden because they had previously served prison sentences. Frank also pleaded guilty to possession of Class A drugs.
For Frank Smith, Leon Kazakos, said the father of four, who works as a landscape gardener, had pleaded guilty at the first opportunity. He said it was his first conviction for six years, having kept out of trouble since July 2011. The cocaine was for personal use, he said.
Mr Kazakos said Frank Smith was going to use the guns for lamping - hunting hares at night.
Hayley Brickel said Paul Smith who, like his brother, appeared via a video link from Peterborough jail, was a hard-working family man with three children. She said he was also a landscape gardener.
She said he had no previous firearm offences on his record and his past convictions were when he was much younger.
For Albert Smith, who was in the court dock, Lisa Wilson said he had 23 grandchildren aged 2 to 20. She said the shotguns were not sawn off and had a lawful use. “There is no evidence to show they had been put to criminal use in the past,” she said.
She, like the other lawyers, asked the judge to pass a suspended sentence.
But Judge Barbara Mensah said she could not suspend sentences and jailed them all for 15 months.
She told the men: “I don’t have to tell you that the possession of firearms is a serious matter. Guns kill, maim and terrorise people.
“The most concerning fact is why you had the guns. No one has answered that question. No explanation has been given.”