A BURGLARY gang bullied a drug addict into hiding four shotguns in his flat.

The gang took the weapons back to Steve Del Pay’s home in Brighton after a raid on a farm in Dorset.

Two of the men even forced their way into living at the address in Donald Hall Road after the theft.

Under pressure from them, Del Pay, 41, moved one of the guns to friend Sharna Hughes’s home in Maresfield Road in Whitehawk.

But when the police raided Hughes’s home, the gang thought Del Pay had tipped them off.

So they assaulted him, leaving him seeking help in a council safe house.

Del Pay tried to convince Hughes, 34, that the double-barrelled Aramberri was an antique rather than a deadly weapon, so she stashed it behind a cupboard in her bedroom.

But after police found it, they admitted possessing the weapon without a valid certificate.

At Lewes Crown Court they were each given eight-month suspended prison sentences.

Jonathan Davies, prosecuting, said a burglary took place at Gotham Farm in Dorset on July 26, 2016, where the classic guns were pinned on a wall.

Moving the shotguns then took place over the following weeks.

Hughes said she had at no stage touched the gun, while Del Pay said he didn’t know the gun was viable.

The court was told he had even played with the guns with the gang members before they assaulted him in September 2016.

The gun was taken to Hughes’s home wrapped in a dark coloured duvet.

Mr Davies said that Del Pay was effectively “under orders” from the gang, as he was exploited for his learning difficulties.

“His involvement was solely in transporting the gun from his home address to Maresfield Road,” the prosecutor said.

Del Pay has 20 previous convictions for 38 offences, mainly for shoplifting.

Hughes meanwhile has eight previous convictions for 19 offences, including a burglary in 2007 and a violent assault where a victim was tied to a chair and beaten repeatedly in a row over drugs.

The victim was her ex-partner and father of her fifth child, Mr Davies said.

When police raided her address in Whitehawk, they found the gun hidden behind a cupboard with a television on it, but the weapon was identified as one of those taken from Dorset.

Charlotte Morrish, defending Hughes, said her client did not know it was a real gun, as she has never seen one before.

Meanwhile Tayo Adebayo, defending Del Pay, said his client had turned his life around from an addiction to class A drugs.

Judge Charles Kemp accepted the guns were taken to Del Pay’s address by people he was scared of.

“I am satisfied that the gun was never used by either of you, and that you did not intend for it to be used for illicit purposes,” the judge said.

The names of the men believed to be bullying Del Pay were not read out in court. It is understood that the burglary in Dorset is still under investigation.