The Central Criminal Court of England and Wales discovered that three men and a woman smuggled 31 automatic guns worth £100,000 (AU$ 195,314) into UK on a pleasure cruise across the Channel.
The jury heard that one of the accused, Harry Shilling, 25, from Swanley, Kent, was the mastermind. He also provided the funds for the guns. According to the prosecutors, the weapons would have been bought by criminals to unleash carnage.
The jury also heard that Shilling, the alleged mastermind, exclaimed, “We [are] now officially gangsters,” after the weaponry landed at a small Kent marina last summer. Officers from the National Crime Agency are trying to track 22 Czech assault rifles and nine sub-machine guns, which could have been sold to drug dealers or gangsters. The NCA officers made the arrests ahead of an onward sale.
Shilling was accompanied by three members of his gang, which included two men, Michael Defraine, 30, and John Smale, 58, and a 42-year-old woman Jennifer Arthy. All four are being tried for smuggling and possessing firearms with intent to endanger life, the BBC reported.
Smale, who is from Rochester in Kent, Defraine, who is from Bexleyheath in Greater London, and Arthy, who lived on a houseboat in Cuxton, Kent, have denied the charges against them like Shilling himself.
Arthy’s partner David Payne, 43, who is also the skipper or the boat, have already pleaded guilty of importing firearms illegally along with the two other men, Richard Rye, 24 and Christopher Owen, 30.
Prosecutor Duncan Atkinson QC told the jurors that the group was planning to make huge profits by purchasing the automatic guns at very low prices from the Czech Republic or Slovakia and then sell them in Britain.
“The prosecution contends that these guns were more than trophies – they were working weapons and they came with a large amount of ammunition,” the Independent quoted Atkinson as saying. “The defendants intended these guns to be used, with ammunition, for the purpose for which they were designed –as lethal weapons capable of unleashing carnage on a terrifying scale – and they intended to profit from doing so.”