Arms dealer guilty of illegal gun running

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AN ARMS dealer from Yorkshire has been found guilty of helping to ship thousands of AK47 assault rifles and millions of rounds of ammunition from China to Nigeria.

Gary Hyde, 43, of Mask Lane, Newton on Derwent, near York, was convicted by a jury at Southwark Crown Court yesterday of breaching UK trade controls.

He moved the weapons without a licence and hid more than $1m (£620,460) in commission payments from the $10m contract, Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) said.

Southwark Crown Court heard the delivery from China to Nigeria in 2007 was made up of 40,000 AK47 assault rifles, 30,000 rifles and 10,000 9mm Makarov pistols, along with 32 million rounds of ammunition.

Hyde was convicted after a retrial of two counts of becoming knowingly concerned in the movement of controlled goods between March 2006 and December 2007.

He was also found guilty of one count of concealing criminal property between March 2006 and December 2008 after he was alleged to have hidden the profits in a bank in Liechtenstein.

He was accused of having helped organise the purchase and shipment from his UK registered company without the necessary permission from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.

Following a search of his business premises and his home, HMRC investigators discovered emails from his computer that confirmed that he was an integral part of the deal. They also used mobile phone records to trace his movements to prove that he was in the UK when making the shipment arrangements, meaning a UK control licence was required.

An HMRC spokesman said: “Hyde was an experienced arms dealer who thought he could deliberately not comply with the law in order to make some extra money to hide offshore.

“He knew full well that his activity required a licence but he decided not to comply with the law and we are delighted that after an extensive investigation he has been bought to justice.”

Prosecutor Mukul Chawla QC had told the court: “Gary Hyde, despite knowing that such a licence was required, helped to organise that shipment without seeking or obtaining the required licence. This was not an oversight but, say the prosecution, a deliberate and calculated breach of the law.

“In order to ensure that this illegal activity was not drawn to the attention of the UK’s Revenue and Customs, he placed and thus concealed the illegal trade in a bank in Liechtenstein.”

Hyde, who served as a special constable for seven years with North Yorkshire Police before leaving in 2004, will be sentenced on November 23. A timetable will be set for confiscation proceedings.