A man ended up in court after a keyring he’d bought marketed as "the smallest pistol in the world" was found to be a functioning a firearm.
Michael Lawrence, 34, snapped up the item as an attachment and was attracted to its “beautiful presentation box”.
Police found it at his home in Byker, Newcastle, in May 2019, and test-fired the gun.
It was found in "good working order" and "deemed to be a firearm", Jessica Slaughter told Newcastle Crown Court.
Officers also came across mini flares and 2mm blank cartridges, Chronicle Live reports.
Lawrence, 34, who has six previous convictions, pleaded guilty topossessing a firearm.
Judge Amanda Rippon told him: "You have to be more careful when you look at things which might, on the face of it, look like a toy or a novelty, but is not.
"Because of the force with which pellets could be fired, it could cause very serious harm if it hit someone's face, for example, even in jest while messing about."
The judge added: ‘Given, however tiny this may be, it can cause serious injury to people, the courts generally send people to prison.
"The unique circumstances surrounding this offence lead me to take a wholly exceptional course.
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"This was a tiny gun which did fire a projectile but you will not have realised it was a dangerous article.
"I accept you bought it to help a friend and were more interested in the rather beautiful presentation box it was purchased in."
Lawrence was sentenced to a six-month community order with a rehabilitation requirement.
The court heard he has worked hard to turn his life around in recent years and the judge said the pre-sentence report was impressive.
Paul Caulfield, defending, said Lawrence has health problems, including anxiety and depression.
He added that it was bought as a key ring attachment.
Last month, a man was jailed for pulling an imitation gun on a kebab shop owner after getting into an argument as he refused to wear a face mask indoors.
Paul Griffiths, 57, was asked to wait outside by staff after he tried to buy food at the takeaway shop in Pentre, Rhondda, South Wales, on November 5, 2020.
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He then pulled out the weapon, captured in horrifying CCTV footage.
In the meantime, a delivery driver who was in the shop escaped through the back of the premises and called 999.
He pleaded guilty to possessing an imitation firearm in a public place with intent to cause fear of violence, possessing a prohibited weapon, and cannabis production, and was jailed for 20 months atMerthyr Tydfil Magistrates' Courton May 20.
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