Paul Clarke, from Surrey, was previously convicted by a jury of possession of the gun, which he said he had found in a bag in his garden.

Mr Clarke had faced the prospect of a five-year prison term when he was sentenced.

Judge Christopher Critchlow explained that Mr Clarke should have asked police to come immediately, rather than waiting for four days.

He said: ?I understand you were once a soldier, and you in particular ought to have appreciated the danger posed by such a weapon and should have asked the police to come to collect it right away.?

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