A former soldier has been jailed for two years after police raided his flat and found a ROCKET LAUNCHER hidden underneath in his bed.
Mark Chalcroft, 46, hoarded the lethal weapon capable of destroying TANKS as a memento of his 12 years serving in the Territorial Army.
Police stormed his property in Northampton after sniffing out a cannabis factory on May 25, 2011 while investigating an unrelated suicide in his tower block.
After searching through his one-bedroom flat and recovering 28 plants officers were stunned to come across the deadly 3ft long rocket launcher underneath Chalcroft’s bed.
Shockingly, the weapon was still capable of firing missiles despite being stamped as deactivated.
Chalcroft was arrested and charged with cannabis cultivation and possession of a rocket launcher.
And last Thursday (14/3) he was jailed for two years at Northampton Crown Court after he pleaded guilty to both charges.
Sentencing him Judge John Bray QC said: “This is a serious weapon, which could have very serious consequences if it fell into the wrong hands.
“I accept your basis of plea, that you purchased the weapon as a kind of souvenir and never intended to use it.
“It has a deactivation stamp on it, which suggests it could not be fired.
“But as a former member of the Territorial Army you should have checked if this was a potentially dangerous weapon or not.”
“I accept that there are exceptional features in this case and the five-year minimum sentence doesn’t need to be applied.”
The court heard no rockets or ammunition were discovered at the address, in the Lumbertubs area of the town.
Rebecca Wade, prosecuting, said: “There was a stamp on it, which would indicate deactivation, but experts said that hadn’t taken place.
“He [the expert] said it was still capable of firing rockets, although there was nothing found within the property that could have been used to do so.”
Defending Matthew Lowe said Chalcroft “genuinely and honestly believed the weapon had been deactivated”.
He said: “This is a man who had been in the Territorial Army for some 12 years and had something of a fascination with all things weaponry and as a memento or a souvenir he purchased it.”