Armed police swooped on an innocent man onlookers claimed was trying to sell a gun at a Wimbledon Stadium car boot sale.
Firearms officers sped to the scene and surrounded grieving Clive Terry, who was unpacking bags full of the belongings of his father-in-law John Welch who had recently passed away, Wimbledon Magistrates' Court heard on Friday.
The 42-year-old dad of Pavement Square, Croydon, was shocked to see dozens of armed police officers surrounding him as he tried to unpack his van overflowing with bags on a busy market day.
His father-in-law had been a keen archer and bags full of bows, arrows and leather straps were among the items Mr Terry had for sale before he was arrested on October 9 last year, the court heard.
He denied one charge of possessing an imitation firearm in a public place and was cleared in court on Friday, January 17.
A punter at the busy car boot sale in Plough Lane, Wimbledon, claims to have seen Mr Terry trying to sell a small starting pistol and alerted police.
The court heard how the accused did not know it was in the bottom of one of the bags he had in his van because they had been packed up by his partner Kelly Welch at her father's home the day before.
Speaking at the one day trial, Mr Terry said: "I took the belongings from my deceased father-in-law's flat as a clear out.
"He liked his country sports, he belonged to an archery club and had lots of random stuff."
District judge Barbara Barnes heard the items on display at the car boot included 80 to 100 arrows, a long bow, leather straps and quiver bags used to hold the arrows safely.
The pistol had belonged to Mr Welch, and he is said to have used it to startle cormorants on a lake when he lived on a farm in Walton-On-Thames.
The family took the items to sell to help cover the cost of Mr Welch's funeral after he died on September 13 last year.
Police Constable Paul McElvey was one of the first officers to arrive at the Plough Lane car boot. Giving evidence at the trial, PC McElvey said: "Starter pistols can be adapted and made into very dangerous firearms.
"This one was in its original form."
The court heard how Mr Terry had extensive knowledge of the sale of guns and although he did not attempt to sell the pistol on this occasion, he used to run a shop in Mitcham selling air rifles and items linked to country pursuits.
But after repeated break-ins, he had agreed with police officers to stop selling handguns.
He was acquitted by Judge Barnes.