No ver­dict in Army weapon theft case

Western Daily Press (Saturday) - - News -

A JURY has been un­able to reach ver­dicts on a num­ber of charges pressed against a for­mer Army cap­tain ac­cused of steal­ing weapons from the Min­istry of De­fence.

Peter Lai­dler, 71, of An­son Close, Mar­cham, Abing­don, Ox­ford­shire, was on trial at Winch­ester Crown Court, where he was ac­quit­ted of nine counts of theft and one charge of han­dling stolen goods.

The jury was un­able to reach ver­dicts on a fur­ther four theft of­fences as well as a count of han­dling stolen goods against Min­istry of De­fence po­lice of­fi­cer Roger Smith, of Bullfinch Road, Emsworth, Hamp­shire.

The 61-year-old was ear­lier ac­quit­ted of five charges of han­dling stolen goods.

A third defendant, Stuart Pem­ber­ton, 52, of Tem­ple, Cors­ley, Warmin­ster, Wilt­shire, was found not guilty of one count of han­dling an al­legedly stolen £50,000 sniper ri­fle.

And Adrian Bull, 64, of High Street, De­vizes, Wilt­shire, was ac­quit­ted of three counts of han­dling stolen goods after the judge said there was no case to an­swer.

The case has been listed to be heard at Sal­is­bury Crown Court on Jan­uary 31 to de­ter­mine whether there should be a re-trial.

The trial heard that Lai­dler, who is also a for­mer po­lice of­fi­cer, was al­leged to have stolen ri­fles while he worked as the ar­mourer for the Small Arms School Col­lec­tion (the SASC) in Warmin­ster.

The SASC is a Min­istry of De­fence col­lec­tion show­ing the de­vel­op­ment of small weapons from the 16th cen­tury to the present day.

The de­fen­dants deny all the charges.

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