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Liverpool Echo
Liverpool Echo
Adam Everett

Golfer digs out loaded shotgun while looking for balls in a bush

A golfer got more than he bargained for when he went looking for balls in a bush.

The man was searching for stray golf balls in shrubbery near to Kirkby Valley Golf Club when he discovered a loaded sawn-off shotgun hidden inside a pillow case. When convicted drug dealer Thanh Hoang's DNA was found on the firearm, he claimed that he had previously come across the weapon while out metal detecting.

Liverpool Crown Court heard this afternoon, Thursday, that David Cornwall had been collecting errant balls on Ingoe Lane - which runs alongside the course - at around 5.30pm on May 14 2021. While using his club to prod through a shrub, he inadvertently pulled out a pillowcase from which the gun fell out.

READ MORE: Two suspects set to go on trial later this year accused of murdering Ashley Dale

Seven shotgun cartridges were also located inside, with the police then alerted to the worrying discovery. Derek Jones, prosecuting, described how the Holland and Holland shotgun had both barrels - which had been shorted to around 20cm in length - loaded, while efforts had been made to remove the serial number.

The firearm was later successfully test fired, with the cartridges describes as being in a good condition. Hoang's DNA was subsequently discovered on the forend grip.

Under interview following his arrest, the 43-year-old - of Neptune Lane in London - said he had uncovered the shotgun while metal detecting, but he had fled and left the weapon behind when "someone shouted" at him. He has eight previous convictions for 15 offences, including being jailed for three years in 2001 for possession of a class A drug with intent to supply.

Hoang was then handed another three-year prison term in 2010 for conspiracy to produce class B drugs. Mr Jones said: "There is no other purpose of having a sawn-off shotgun, other than for criminal purposes."

Carmel Wilde, defending, told the court that her client had "started to try to live a legitimate lifestyle" and set up a CCTV business in order to provide for his wife and two children in Thailand. She added: "It is disappointing that after such a period of not offending, he is back here."

Ms Wilde said that Hoang had not been "in the right frame of mind" after being diagnosed with HIV. However, he has been assisting as a translator since his remand into custody.

The defendant admitted possession of a firearm during an earlier hearing. Hoang bowed to the judge and said "thank you" after being locked up for five years.

Forfeiture and destruction of the weapon was ordered. Sentencing, Judge Anil Murray said: "It is worrying that you have previous conviction for drug dealing and you have had possession of a shotgun."

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