A doomsday prepper who hoarded guns, knives, bows and arrows as well as tinned food under his floorboards has been jailed for almost six years.
Dad-of-five Barney Buttifint built up a personal arsenal of 17 firearms, alongside knives and a bow and arrow – all of which he stashed in a secret room in his home in Dover, Kent.
He also had thousands of bullets when the 36-year-old pest control worker was raided by police at his home, in July this year, after his own wife called 999.
When searching the house, officers became convinced that Buttifint had reconfigured his home in preparation for a sustained gunfight with them.
They claimed it was complete with vantage and choke points.
After two days of combing through the property, officers charged Buttifint in connection with the illegal guns and bullets on the basis he had been planning a shoot-out with officers.
However, Judge Mark Weekes at Canterbury Crown Court threw out the police’s allegations and found Buttifint had no plans for a siege.
Instead, the judge said the dad was ‘something of a prepper’ – a fringe community who believe the end of society is coming and are readying themselves for the social disorder they say will follow.
They added that Buttifint was “someone who, if push came to shove, would be entirely self-sufficient”.
Alongside the weapons, officers found a Confederate flag and rugs draped in the windows, leaving the house in darkness.
The flag is closely associated with racism in the deep south of America stemming back to before the country’s civil war, linked to slavery.
Judge Weekes told the court on Wednesday December 14 that Buttifint was an avid hunter who collected weapons to trap and hunt game.
He said he did not pose a risk to the public.
But he slammed Buttifint for lying about how he obtained an illegal sawn-off shotgun, one of his many weapons, that he hid behind his fridge.
The dad claimed he was planning to get rid of the firearm on behalf of a pal who he said had found it by chance.
But the judge ruled Buttifint had wanted to keep the weapon after authorities refused a previous bid of his to legally own a similar-sized gun.
Buttifint pleaded guilty to possessing a prohibited firearm, possessing a firearm without a certificate and possessing ammunition without a certificate.
Jailing Buttifint for five years and 10 months, Judge Weekes said: “The reason the law takes such a serious view is a firearm such as that is a very dangerous one.
“That type of weapon is frequently used by criminals, and when it is used by criminals it is a particularly dangerous weapon.”
Officers claimed to the court that Buttifint’s blackened windows had been designed to frustrate the efforts of firearm officers.
They added that dartboards inside the home were set up for siege practice – namely bettering his aim with throwing knives and bows.
They also said that Buttifint had created “vantage points” so the police could be shot at in the downstairs hallway.
But Buttifint argued he simply enjoyed playing darts and preferred the dark.
He said: “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 said the secret store built in his living room, which housed mostly legally owned guns, was to stop children and intruders finding the cache.
Buttifint argued stockpiles of timber were “to put up a shed” while the Confederate flag was “just from when I was a kid”.
He said: “I just had nothing else at the time.”
The judge ordered the destruction of the illegal weapons, while it is understood that Buttifint’s firearms licence and certificates will be revoked.
James Burke, in mitigation, described Buttifint as an industrious man who is highly respected within his community.
He argued Buttifint, who appeared via videolink from HMP Elmley, was of previous good character and had held a firearms licence for 15 years.
He said: “He’s very much looking forward to the finality of today’s proceedings in order that he can start to plan to rebuild his life.”
Detective Constable Max Pegler, of Folkestone Criminal Investigation Department, said: “To keep the public safe, it is essential that firearms are held in accordance with a licence and stored safely, where they cannot cause harm or be used for criminal purposes.
“The possession of the illegal-held weapons in this case, and the way in which they were stored in Buttifint’s property, was clearly in breach of the rules.
” Kent Police was quick to arrest and charge this man and I hope the sentence he has received sends out a message to anyone in possession of, or thinking of obtaining, such weapons.”