A “professional thug” from Thames Ditton, who was caught by police with a sawn-off shotgun and a pot of sulphuric acid, was jailed on Friday for at least 10 years.

Adrian Stuart McCrae, 42, from Harvest Lane, was arrested along with another man, David Noel, 31 from Luton, just before noon on December 18, on a street in Southampton - a notorious drugs hot spot - by two members of Hampshire Constabulary’s tactical cycle team carrying out a stop-check.

Police recovered the shotgun and acid, as well as ammunition, ties ready for use as handcuffs, two baseball bats and a picture of the men’s target, from the Saab convertible they were travelling in, the court heard.

They also later found a stun gun.

During the trial at Southampton Crown Court, jurors heard that on December 1, two-and-a-half weeks before McCrae and Noel were arrested, the pair had called at a wrong address to their intended victim, in Forsters Road, Southampton.

The door was answered by student Neil Nand, who was bundled up the stairs, where he was then bound, gagged and beaten by McCrae and Noel.

However, during the brutal attack, the pair realised they had got a the wrong man through a phone call to their boss and fled the scene, leaving the student still bound and gagged. They threatened him with reprisals if he contacted the police.

They returned to Southampton just over a fortnight later, where they were discovered with the weapons and arrested.

Police also found a photo of another man, who had been living with his girlfriend in nearby Earls Road.

Charles Thomas, for the prosecution, told the court: “That house is only yards away from Forsters Road.

"They came down on December 18 to find the person they could not find on December 1.”

McCrae admitted to aggravated burglary and possessing a stun gun and was also convicted of possessing a shotgun with intent to commit an indictable offence, which he had pleaded not guilty to.

Noel was also found guilty of aggravated burglary and possessing a firearm with intent to commit an indictable offence.

Judge John Boggis, who said the pair had gone armed to terrorise and maim, sentenced both of them to a minimum of 10 years in jail.

It will be up to a parole board to determine if he stays in jail longer.

Judge Boggis said: “I am satisfied you were on a job and you were prepared to use serious violence to achieve your aims.

"You are professional thugs, well used to violence.”

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