Chester Crown Court has sentenced four men from Merseyside convicted of possessing firearms for a total of more than 25 years in jail.
Chester Crown Court was told that two of the men had been involved in importing antique guns from France to try and get round UK firearms laws – and were also being sought by police following an earlier affray.
The Border Agency had contacted Merseyside Police to say that one of the men – Steven Lloyd – had been buying antique firearms from overseas.
Officers arrested Steven Lloyd on suspicion of affray and for possessing three antique guns. Lloyd admitted buying 18 antique firearms in total and selling them on as antiques.
Police officers who had searched the home of Jonathan Southward following the affray had also found four handguns – three of them antique.
Officers discovered that the fourth gun found at Southward’s home was a modern, semi-automatic handgun, which had been used in a separate violent incident in Liverpool.
Police officers also found ammunition components, home-made ammunition and ammunition making kits for the three antique guns – it was clear that all of the guns were being used as live firearms, officers said.
The police continued their investigations into Lloyd and discovered that he had also bought deactivated ammunition that might have fitted the antique guns – and he had also bought the ammunition components and ammunition-making kits from France.
Tests on one of the antique guns showed a DNA match with Anthony Nolan, also from Netherton. Nolan was arrested and a search of his home uncovered a modern rifle that had been stolen in a burglary the year before.
The DNA of Peter Stevens was also discovered on one of the antique guns and he was also arrested.
At Chester Crown Court, Jonathan Southward, 25, of Dartmouth Drive in Netherton pleaded guilty to conspiracy to possess prohibited weapons with intent to endanger life. He was jailed for nine years.
Steven Lloyd, 22, of Moss Lane in Litherland pleaded guilty to conspiracy to possess prohibited weapons with intent to endanger life. Lloyd was jailed for ten-and-a-half years. He was also sentenced to six years to run concurrently for 15 offences of possessing prohibited firearms in relation to the other antique guns he had bought and a modern firearm.
Anthony Nolan, 20, of Marie Curie Avenue in Netherton pleaded guilty to possession of a prohibited weapon and was sentenced to five years in a YOI. He was also sentenced to two years to run concurrently for possession of a firearm.
Peter Stevens, 18, of Cross Hey in Litherland pleaded guilty to possession of a prohibited weapon and was sentenced to three years in a YOI. Stevens was also sentenced for possession of Class B drugs, for which he was sent to a YOI for 28 days to run concurrently.
Senior District Crown Prosecutor Geoff Fryar, of Mersey-Cheshire Crown Prosecution Service, said:
“The law allows people to own antique firearms only where they are held for 'curiosity or ornament'. That is no defence when the guns are being used to support criminal activity, which is clearly what was happening in this case.
“These men thought they could get around the strict gun laws by buying antiques, and then sourcing the components so that they could be used –
but they were tracked down and prosecuted.
“The tough sentences handed out show that buying antique firearms for an ulterior motive will not be tolerated.”
Duncan Lewis Criminal Solicitors
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