An­tique gun dealer guilty of sup­ply­ing gangs

The Guardian - - NATIONAL - Steven Morris DC Philip Rodgers with a se­lec­tion of firearms linked to Paul Ed­munds

A 66-year-old an­tique firearms dealer from a vil­lage in Glouces­ter­shire was found guilty yes­ter­day of sup­ply­ing weapons and hand­crafted bul­lets used by crim­i­nals across the UK.

Am­mu­ni­tion made by Paul Ed­munds and weapons supplied by him have been found at more than 100 crime scenes in­clud­ing gang­land shoot­ings and even a firearms at­tack on a po­lice he­li­copter.

Ed­munds had crafted be­spoke bul­lets for use in vin­tage weapons such as Smith & Wes­son pis­tols from the US and 19th­cen­tury French and Rus­sian guns that he had brought into the UK sup­pos­edly as col­lec­tors’ cu­riosi­ties.

He also im­ported pro­hib­ited 1950s Colt pis­tols af­ter trips to Chicago, Las Ve­gas and Den­ver and falsely claimed they were more than a cen­tury old and there­fore an­tiques.

Ed­munds supplied the guns and am­mu­ni­tion to an out­wardly re­spectable Birm­ing­ham phys­io­ther­a­pist called Mo­hin­der Sur­d­har af­ter the pair met at a le­git­i­mate gun fair in 2008. In turn, Sur­d­har passed them on to a no­to­ri­ous crime group in the city called the Burger Bar gang, which kept some and sold oth­ers to un­der­world con­tacts.

When West Mid­lands po­lice ar­rested Ed­munds at his mod­est home in Hard­wicke, south-west of Glouces­ter, they found 100,000 rounds of am­mu­ni­tion in his garage, bed­room and at­tic.

De­tec­tives have linked 1,000 rounds of am­mu­ni­tion and 17 guns found at UK crime scenes to Ed­munds but be­lieve that many oth­ers guns and am­mu­ni­tion seized by po­lice or still in the hands of crim­i­nals passed through his hands.

He also once took 6,000 live rounds of am­mu­ni­tion to a buyer in France in the boot of his car with no ex­port doc­u­men­ta­tion and with­out telling the au­thor­i­ties, his trial heard.

DC Phil Rodgers, who led the in­ves­ti­ga­tion, likened Ed­munds and Sur­d­har to the un­likely crooks Wal­ter White and Jesse Pinkman in the hit US tele­vi­sion show Break­ing Bad.

He said: “On the face of it both de­cent men but us­ing their skills and ex­per­tise to pro­vide deadly firearms. But this was no TV drama – these were real weapons, real bul­lets, real vic­tims. Their ac­tions have had a dev­as­tat­ing im­pact on com­mu­ni­ties by fu­elling vi­o­lent crime, lead­ing to fear and blood­shed.

“Ed­munds has an en­cy­clopaedic knowl­edge of firearms. It’s not an easy task mak­ing ob­so­lete cal­i­bre bul­lets to fit an­tique guns; it would have taken sev­eral days to make a box of 50.

“Sur­dar also had an ar­moury at his home and we be­lieve Ed­munds was teach­ing him the art of bul­let-mak­ing.

“Our in­ves­ti­ga­tion has un­doubt­edly pre­vented many more firearms and count­less rounds of am­mu­ni­tion get­ting into crim­i­nal hand and in all like­li­hood saved lives.”

One Colt re­volver Ed­munds brought into the coun­try via Heathrow in April 2011 was found by West Mid­lands po­lice 25 days later in a bag hid­den be­hind a block of flats in the Handsworth area of Birm­ing­ham. It was loaded with bul­lets that foren­sics ex­perts proved were made in Ed­munds’ ar­moury by match­ing mi­cro­scopic lines on the cas­ings with those on his am­mu­ni­tion presses.

He also smug­gled a Colt pis­tol made for US law en­force­ment agen­cies into the UK in Novem­ber 2013 that was used the next month to shoot dead a man at a Christ­mas party in a London night­club.

Rodgers said: “Ed­munds claimed he had no idea Sur­dar was pass­ing the guns to crim­i­nals. We didn’t be­lieve him and clearly nei­ther did the jury.

“In in­ter­view he spoke can­didly about his dis­dain for the UK’s strict laws on firearms and the hand­gun ban in­tro­duced in the wake of the Dun­blane tragedy. He’s used his po­si­tion of au­thor­ity in the firearms world to help him bring guns into the coun­try un­de­tected. It’s hard to over­state the sig­nif­i­cance of these con­vic­tions: we have cut off a ma­jor firearms sup­ply chain and one that’s been used by dan­ger­ous men to com­mit se­ri­ous of­fences.”

Ed­munds told po­lice he “didn’t give a shit” about po­ten­tial vic­tims. He said he was “not re­spon­si­ble for the ac­tions of some­body that buys some things”, adding his “duty of care” ex­tended only to not sell­ing to peo­ple who “didn’t look right”.

While 17 pis­tols linked to Ed­munds have been taken out of cir­cu­la­tion, po­lice said that of the 280 guns im­ported be­tween 2009 and 2015, the where­abouts of 207 re­mained a mys­tery.

Ed­munds was found guilty of con­spir­acy to trans­fer pro­hib­ited weapons and am­mu­ni­tion, two counts of per­vert­ing the course of jus­tice, trans­fer­ring pro­hib­ited weapons, pos­ses­sion of pro­hib­ited weapons and im­port­ing firearms from the US. He pleaded guilty to ex­port­ing am­mu­ni­tion.

He has been re­manded in cus­tody un­til 20 De­cem­ber for sen­tenc­ing. Sur­d­har pleaded guilty at an ear­lier hear­ing to con­spir­acy to trans­fer pro­hib­ited weapons and am­mu­ni­tion and is await­ing sen­tence.

Pho­to­graph: Reuters

Guns and bul­lets sourced or made by Paul Ed­munds were passed on to a Birm­ing­ham gang that hit the head­lines in 2003 when Char­lene Ellis, sec­ond left, and Letisha Shake­speare, far right, died in the cross­fire of a drive-by shoot­ing

Paul Ed­munds supplied guns and am­mu­ni­tion to Mo­hin­der Sur­d­har, right, who in turn passed them on to the Burger Bar gang

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