A dad-of-five hoarded an arsenal of weapons, blacked out his windows, and stashed tinned food under floorboards in preparation for an impending catastrophe.
A sawn-off shotgun, illegally held pistol chamber and illicit cache of bullets were discovered when police raided Barney Buttifint’s Dover home.
Bows and arrows, crossbows and throwing knives were found alongside 15 legally held shotguns and two rifles, housed in a secret room.
With a confederate flag and black rugs blocking sunlight, detectives and bomb squads combed the corrugated iron strewn property for two days searching for booby traps.
A deactivated Second World War grenade was discovered alongside tinned food under floorboards, with detectives convinced the 36-year-old pest controller was primed for a violent police stand-off.
The cache of weapons and stockpile of iron and timber – believed to be for barricades – prompted Kent Police to believe it “enabled (the house) to be used in a siege situation”.
But Buttifint was in fact “something of a ‘prepper'” – part of a small eccentric community living in fear of social disorder and natural disaster.
The avid-hunter, supported by his parents in the public gallery, appeared at Canterbury Crown Court last Thursday for a Newton Hearing.
It is a fact-finding mission when two sides give conflicting information, allowing a judge to determine which party is correct.
PC Saddler told the court Buttifint’s blackened windows were designed to frustrate the efforts of firearms officers.
He told the court he believed his dartboards were for seige practice, bettering his aim with throwing knives or bows, for example.
PC Saddler explained he arrived at the Lascelles Road property on day two of the raid, after officers had bagged up weapons and combed for booby traps.
As police swarmed the address in July this year, a neighbour told KentOnline: “I have no idea what has been happening, but there are so many officers in the street.”
In photos taken at the time the confederate flag can be seen hung in a top window.
Giving evidence, athletically-built Buttifint told the court he had no intention of hurting people.
“It never was my intention. I knew I shouldn’t have had the gun I had but I didn’t have any intention of hurting anyone – I’m not like that,” he told the judge.
Buttifint, of previous good character, was referring to the illegally-held sawn off shotgun officers discovered behind his fridge.
He said a secret room built in his living room, housing 17 legally-held weapons in gun cabinets, was to stop children and intruders finding the cache.
Buttifint argued stockpiles of timber was “to put up a shed,” while the confederate flag was “just from when I was a kid,” arguing: “I just had nothing else at the time.”
Asked why corrugated iron covered parts of furniture he argued: “I just liked the look of it.”
“Do you know what a ‘Prepper’ is?” asked prosecutor Robert Brown.
“Yes,” he replied.
“Are you one,” the barrister probed.
Judge Mark Weekes said he had heard compelling evidence, including from Buttifint’s father and firearms licence officer, to be convinced he was not plotting a police siege.
He dubbed PC Sadler an “honest and straightforward witness” but also “a little enthusiastic about his theory.”
The judge threw out Buttifint’s claim he was holding the sawn-off shotgun with the intention to destroy it.
And he told the court the defendant was “something of a ‘Prepper’ […] someone who, if push came to shove, would be entirely self-sufficient”.
Buttifint pleaded guilty to possessing a prohibited firearm, possessing a firearm without a certificate and possessing ammunition without a certificate.
Police counted 2,300 .22 bullets whereas he could legally hold 2,000.
All of his legally held firearms were safely stored meeting government standards.
He will be sentenced at a later date.