A STUN gun disguised as a torch was found in the bedroom of a Wirral man by police after a second identical one he had ordered had been intercepted by customs officers.

Police also found a pepper spray, an extendable baton and BB gun in Peter Keating's wardrobe and a judge said today that he had an "unhealthy fascination with weapons."

Liverpool Crown Court heard that 36-year-old Keating, a project co-ordinator for a national cosmetics company, enjoys fancy dress parties and claimed he had the items as accessories for them.

He faced an automatic five-year jail term for the stun gun offence but Judge Thomas Teague, QC, accepted there were exceptional circumstances which meant he could avoid imposing that sentence.

Keating had pleaded not guilty of possessing a disguised firearm but was convicted after a trial and Judge Teague told him: "I don't accept for one moment that you thought you were buying a torch and I find that preposterous.

"But I am prepared to accept that you did not realise at the time that possession of it is unlawful in this country."

The court heard that Keating had ordered the stun guns via the internet and believed they were torches.

"I don't believe anyone goes to a Chinese website to buy a torch that you can buy on the High Street for £2.99," said the judge.

Police raided Keating's home in Oxton on March 29 last year, a week after Border Force officials intercepted a stun gun disguised a torch at a Royal Mail depot in Berkshire addressed to Keating.

In his bedroom wardrobe they found an identical item along with the three other weapons and fancy dress clothes.

The court was told that the BB gun and baton are not illegal items and the defendant pleaded guilty to possessing the pepper spray.

Keating told police that he had ordered the stun gun intercepted in transit for a friend.

He said he had had the pepper spray, which was still in its unopened blister packaging, for ten to 15 years.

Judge Teague said that there was no evidence that Keating had taken the stun gun out of his home or charged it and it was a non-lethal weapon which needs to make contact with skin to operate and emit frightening sparks.

"It is a deterrent defensive weapon but I have no doubt that in the wrong hands it could be used for other purposes."

He said that like the pepper spray which was unused and had never left the house Keating would never have taken the stun gun out either and was probably going to hoard it.

"Although you have an unhealthy fascination with such things you seem to content yourself storing them at home."

Trevor Parry-Jones, defending, said that Keating was of "impeccable" good character.

He produced numerous character references and called his line manage, Paula Hughes, who told the court that he was "loyal, trust worthy and hard working."

She said that he played an essential role and if he was jailed his 18 colleagues in his North West office might have to relocated to London or Leicester.

Mr Parry-Jones said that Keating is a devoted husband and father and has "a general naivety about him. Maybe not as many are as keen on fancy dress as these two.

"That explains many of the items in the bedroom, there was a dressing up part to the wardrobe."

The stun gun, like the pepper spray, would only have been for defensive use and the health of himself and wife have suffered following the strain after his arrest, he added.

Judge Teague sentenced Keating to 18 months imprisonment suspended for two years.

He also ordered him to carry out 180 hours unpaid work and 20 days rehabilitation activities.

He also ordered him to pay £850 prosecution costs within two months.