England

Warminster weapons trial: MoD police officer sentenced

Peter Laidler (left) and Roger Smith (right)
Image caption Roger Smith (right) and Peter Laidler were convicted after a retrial

A Ministry of Defence (MoD) police officer convicted of handling a stolen firearm has been sentenced to unpaid work.

Roger Smith, 61, of Emsworth, Hampshire, was found with an SA80 assault rifle - the Army's standard issue automatic rifle - at his home.

It had been stolen from a British Army museum collection in Wiltshire.

He was given a 12-month community order, including 200 hours of unpaid work, at Winchester Crown Court.

Image copyright Chris Talbot
Image caption Roger Smith was sentenced at Winchester Crown Court

Former army captain Peter Laidler, 72, of Marcham, Oxfordshire, was found guilty of stealing the rifle, as well as two Accuracy International L96 sniper rifles, at a trial on 10 September.

Matthew Jewell QC, prosecuting, said the weapons were stolen from the Small Arms School Collection (SASC) in Warminster between 1998 and 2016, while Mr Laidler worked as the collection's armourer.

The SASC is an MoD collection showing the development of small weapons from the 16th century to the present day.

Mr Jewell said the two defendants had known each other for "many years" and both had a "keen interest in firearms".

Laidler will be sentenced at a later date.

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