An international arms dealer from Yorkshire, facing criminal charges over the trade of 80,000 guns and 32 million rounds of ammunition, could walk free today after his trial collapsed.
Gary Hyde is accused of having helped arrange the shipment of 40,000 AK47 assault rifles, 30,000 other rifles and 10,000 9mm pistols from China to Nigeria without the necessary licence from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.
However, the judge presiding over his trial at Southwark Crown Court discharged the jury yesterday after deciding the prosecution case against him “has to fail in law”.
This means Hyde, 42, a former special constable with no previous convictions, will be acquitted of the charges today unless prosecutors decide to appeal against the ruling.
Hyde, of Mask Lane, Newton on Derwent, near York, denies two charges of breaching the Trade in Goods (Control) Order 2003 and one charge of concealing criminal property.
Judge Nicholas Loraine-Smith said his concerns related to the order, which had been replaced in 2009.
He explained that there were errors between supplementary guidance to the order, which Hyde knew about, and the legislation itself.
The judge said: “A properly-directed jury could not be satisfied that he intended to evade that particular prohibition.”
If prosecutors decide to appeal, the case will go to the Court of Appeal, which may order a retrial.