A CANNABIS farmer caught with a sawn-off shotgun has failed to convince top judges he was the victim of a miscarriage of justice.
Vincenzo Leo pleaded guilty to having a banned weapon at Sheffield Crown Court in September 2015.
Leo was arrested after police searched a flat in Barnsley Road, Wath, in January 2015 and found the gun and 40 cannabis plants.
The single-barrelled shotgun, which had half of the barrel sawn-off, was hidden inside a wardrobe.
Leo also admitted producing cannabis, possessing a firearm without a certificate and assault causing actual bodily harm.
The 66-year-old, of Lister Avenue, Sheffield, was jailed for six years — five of which were for having the banned gun.
He tried to clear his name over the sawn-off shotgun at the Court of Appeal, in London last week.
Leo insisted the weapon was not his and he only admitted his guilt because he felt “under pressure”.
Leo tried to claim his lawyers had agreed to a “deal” with prosecutors and he therefore had “no choice” but to enter a guilty plea.
But his appeal was rejected by three of the country’s most senior judges, who said there was “no merit” in his claims.
Investigations revealed Leo's fingerprints were on the gun and a DNA sample obtained from it was a partial match for him.
He did not live at the flat, but had been renting it for several months and was seen visiting regularly by neighbours.
During an earlier encounter with police, after he reported another man he was involved in a running dispute with in September 2014, he showed officers a legal shotgun — but for which he had no certificate.
He also assaulted the man by firing a crossbow pistol at him, leaving him with a small graze, the Appeal Court heard.
Dismissing his appeal, Mrs Justice Carr said Leo had been under no pressure from his lawyers and had admitted his guilt freely, in the face of “overwhelming” evidence.
Sitting with Lord Justice Burnett and Judge Jeffrey Pegden QC, she added: “A letter we have received from his counsel gives a comprehensive response to the matters raised by Leo.”
She concluded: “He said he did not own the shotgun, but he knew of its existence.
“It was found on cannabis farm premises, which he was in charge of, and his fingerprints were on it.”