Antique gun dealer guilty of supplying gangs
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.
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