[28 SEP 00]
CRIMES, FIRES & ACCIDENTS
For Sending Guns to Baginton
runners who tried to smuggle arms through Coventry Airport have
been sent to jail, but the judge said they should have faced the
American judge criticised US law, saying it was impossible for him
to have given a harsher penalty to the trio, who received
sentences between three and almost five years.
were picked up after guns, labelled as videos and baby equipment,
were intercepted by security checks as they went through the
Baginton airfield. The packages were on their way to addresses in
the UK and Ireland.
Claxton, 28, Martin Mullan, 30, and Anthony Smyth, 43, were
convicted in June of shipping weapons to Ireland and related
the guns they ordered, 86 were shipped before their arrest and 57
of those were seized by police. But 29 guns were not traced and
their whereabouts are unknown.
three defendants were acquitted of the most serious charges
against them - shipping weapons to terrorists and conspiracy to
maim or murder persons in a foreign country.
conspiracy to murder or maim charge could have resulted in a life
the ringleader who admitted to being an IRA member, asked Judge
Ferguson to be lenient upon his co-defendants, who were both later
sentenced to three years each and he added:
would like to think that today we are making history, but this
will be the last time a judge sentences a man from Ireland for
something like this.”
West Belfast resident was convicted on 39 counts, including using
a false passport to facilitate terrorism, weapons smuggling and
law books say those convictions could bring a maximum sentence of
275 years in prison, but judges are bound by guidelines that take
many things into consideration.
a car salesman, was convicted on 31 counts, including weapons
smuggling, the unlawful sale of firearms and making false
statements to a firearms dealer.
a Philadelphia handyman, was convicted on 10 counts, including
weapons smuggling and possession of a weapon by an illegal alien.
investigation involved Warwickshire and Metropolitan Police along
with forces in Ireland and the USA.
Parcelforce depot where the guns were detected has since been
replaced by a larger building at the other end of the airfield.