A FORMER boss at an award-winning Ryedale coaching inn has admitted keeping illegal guns and firearms.

Paul O’Hanlon was convicted and sentenced for keeping weapons at the Black Swan in Helmsley when he was its general manager.

Speaking after his court appearance he urged those with guns to make sure they keep their licences up to date.

And he also warned anyone thinking of buying or acquiring unusual or novelty guns: “Don’t touch them.”

Richard Walters, prosecuting, told York Crown Court that O’Hanlon twice showed off his stun gun to staff members by discharging it in his office.

O’Hanlon also had a pistol capable of firing gas canisters.

Both were firearms that could not be owned under any circumstances by members of the public.

O’Hanlon, 50, is now running a hotel in Nairn near Inverness, pleaded guilty to having a semi-automatic 12 bore shotgun without a licence, a gas powered air rifle without a licence and two charges of having prohibited firearms.

For him, Peter Minnikin said he had held licences for the shotgun and air rifle for 22 years but had forgotten to renew them under the pressure of long working hours and a family illness.

The stun gun had been a present from a friend who had brought it back from Romania.

Judge Andrew Stubbs QC told O’Hanlon: “As far as the stun gun is concerned, I am satisfied you did know that was illegal. You are someone who has been trusted with firearms. You know better than many others the duties and responsibilities that come with that.”

He passed a 12-month prison sentence suspended for 12 months on condition O’Hanlon does 120 hours’ unpaid work. All the weapons have now been or will be destroyed.

Outside court, O’Hanlon told all holders of gun licences: “Make sure you keep on top of renewing them or you will get caught out as I was.”

Mr Walters said O’Hanlon brought the shotgun and air rifle legitimately with him when he moved from Northern Ireland to Helmsley.

He kept them in the hotel’s gun cabinet, which complied with gun regulations. But their five-year licence expired in 2015 and was never renewed.

In March 2017, another staff member mentioned O’Hanlon’s guns to police when renewing his own gun licence and checks revealed the general manager’s guns didn’t have licences.

That led to the hotel’s directors becoming involved and O’Hanlon’s other firearms were found. Mr Minnikin said the crimes had cost O’Hanlon his job and his fiancee. He had kept the pistol as a memento of his father’s police career.