Surrey

Three gun smugglers jailed including a Godalming paedophile

Beard, Richards and Bishop Image copyright National Crime Agency
Image caption Martin Beard, Mark Richards and Aaron Bishop have all been jailed over firearms offences

Three gun smugglers, including one who admitted being "a bit of a paedophile", have been jailed for importing illegal firearms through the post.

Aaron Bishop and Martin Beard were convicted by a jury of taking delivery of guns ordered by Mark Richards via the dark web.

The National Crime Agency (NCA) also found a memory stick with 59 serious child abuse images buried in the garden at Bishop's property in Hampshire.

He pleaded guilty to possessing them.

In 2013 the NCA began working with United States authorities to investigate a dark web trafficking group sending guns to the UK.

After Bishop signed for one delivery a warrant was executed. A live shotgun cartridge was found, and an ex-housemate reported 30 9mm live Luger Geco rounds being delivered two weeks before.

During his interview with NCA officers Bishop claimed he thought the delivery was cannabis, but admitted he was "a bit of a paedophile" in relation to the images.

Image copyright Wikimedia
Image caption Glock handgun, similar to the one seized

The NCA also intercepted a parcel sent to Beard containing a Glock with two magazines of ammunition.

Analysis of the defendants' phones and computers showed they discussed the purchases and identified Richards as the organiser.

Father-of-two Richards, of Chapel Lane, Godalming, pleaded guilty at the first opportunity to conspiring to import prohibited Glock handguns and ammunition.

Bishop, of Milford, Godalming, pleaded guilty to possessing indecent images but not guilty to conspiring to import weapons.

Beard, of Riverside, Staines, pleaded guilty to producing cannabis but not guilty on the same weapons charge.

On Thursday, a jury at Birmingham Crown Court convicted them on all charges.

Richards was jailed for five years and four months, Beard to four years and six months with eight months concurrent for the cannabis offence and Bishop for four years and 10 months, with six months concurrent for the child abuse images.

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