An unemployed Conservative councillor has today avoided jail after confronting a neighbour with a loaded airgun over a row about a pet cat.
Nick Buckmaster, 51, of Mount Echo Drive, Chingford appeared at Snaresbrook Crown Court this afternoon where he was handed a nine month prison sentence suspended for two years, and ordered to carry out 150 hours of unpaid work.
According to Judge William Kennedy, the Larkswood ward councillor had awoke on January 18 following a night of "considerable consumption of alcohol" to find a neighbour's cat had entered his home, and damaged his cat flap before urinating and spraying in the kitchen.
Buckmaster, "befuddled by alcohol" decided to walk over to Brett Stark's home in nearby College Gardens carrying a loaded air pistol tucked within his clothing.
An argument then broke out between Buckmaster and Mr Stark, a bailiff with training in mixed-martial arts, who told the councillor he did not own a cat, swore at him and closed the door in his face.
Judge Kennedy told the court how Buckmaster had then "produced the air pistol and pointed it at Mr Stark through the glass, who could not have known whether it was a genuine handgun or not."
After Buckmaster then decided to turn away, Mr Stark opened his front door, walked towards him and knocked him down with a single blow to his face.
Buckmaster was then restrained by two neighbours until armed police arrived and detained him with him offering no resistance.
The only explanation ever offered for carrying the gun was that it "might have been used to kill the cat", judge Kennedy said.
Prior to the heated incident, Buckmaster had recently lost his best friend and godfather to one of his children through drug abuse, and had lost his job as a finance worker in the city after his role became obsolete.
Sentencing the Chingford councillor of eight years, Judge Kennedy said: "The unlawful possession of any item which is or might be thought to be a gun is an offence of great seriousness and anyone who uses such an item aggressively faces the loss of liberty.
"Your recent life has involved personal difficulty, but it is to your immense credit that you have spent eight years as a councillor for the area in which you live in.
"Local councillors give freely and generously of their time and commitment, and such giving is to their huge personal credit when other events overcome them."
The 51 year-old joined today by Conservative leader Matt Davis and Buckmaster's family had packed a suitcase and kissed his wife and mother before entering the dock.
Buckmaster provided no comment after today's sentence after he was hushed away by his defence solicitor Simon Ray.
He can now return to Chingford where he will be on a curfew for four months and barred permanently from entering College Gardens or visiting Mr Stark.
It appears Buckamster's political career is over after Mr Ray said he will not stand in any further elections as an independent or representing any political party.