Gary Hyde jailed over Nigeria arms shipment

Gary Hyde
Image caption Gary Hyde ran a legitimate wholesale guns business

An arms dealer who helped to ship thousands of guns and ammunition from China to Nigeria without a licence has been jailed.

Gary Hyde, 43, was found guilty of breaching UK trade controls at London's Southwark Crown Court in October.

Jurors heard the delivery in 2007 included 40,000 AK-47 assault rifles, 30,000 rifles, 10,000 pistols and 32 million rounds of ammunition.

Hyde, of Newton on Derwent, East Yorkshire, was jailed for seven years.

Profits hidden

He legitimately ran and expanded wholesale business York Guns to the point where it employed 20 staff in 2003 and helped broker various arms deals including some for the British government.

But in 2006 Hyde got involved in the deal between China and Nigeria, the court heard.

The arms deal between the two countries' governments was lawful, but Judge Nicholas Loraine-Smith said middleman Hyde, of Mask Lane, was caught out by his own greed.

He failed to apply for a licence to take part in the deal, fearing it would be refused, but was attracted by the "enormous profits" to be made, the judge said.

Hyde, a former special constable, 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, more than $1m (£620,460), in a bank in Liechtenstein.

'Impeccable record'

The judge told him: "You got carried away by the enormous profits that could be made elsewhere and, it would seem, in some less responsible company.

"Applying for a licence would have been easy. There was no evidence you would have got one, the question was never asked. I suspect you thought you would not.

"If you had, you would have also been concerned about the UK authorities finding out about your very substantial earnings."

In mitigation, Stephen Solley QC said Hyde had previously had "an impeccable record".

He said his client had once alerted the British authorities about a deal happening between China and Libya in which "the very latest missile systems" were going to the north African dictatorship.

A forfeiture and destruction hearing will be held at the court on 17 December.

Lincolnshire Police are applying to destroy 12,300 AK47s Hyde owns which are held in a secure warehouse.

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