Seven charged after NCA police seize cache of weapons


Seven people have been charged after a cache of weapons including automatic rifles and machine pistols was recovered in the largest seizure of its kind in the UK.

Six men and a woman will appear before magistrates following an investigation by the National Crime Agency (NCA) into the suspected importation of firearms.

Officers seized 22 automatic assault rifles, 9 Skorpion machine pistols, 58 magazines, 2 silencers and around 1,000 live rounds of ammunition following an operation on Tuesday afternoon.

The guns were in holdalls and a suitcase, which also contained magazines and ammunition, when they were taken from a van as it left Cuxton Marina in Kent.

It followed the arrival of a motor cruiser which had been tracked as it travelled to the UK from France.

A total of eight arrests were made in Cuxton, Orpington and Swanley, all in Kent.

The other seven people held have been charged with importing and possessing firearms.

NCA deputy director Graham Gardner said: "This was an extremely significant seizure, the largest of its kind in the UK.

"I've no doubt that these weapons would have ended up in criminal hands and it goes without saying the risk they would have posed to the public.

"We are still in the early stages of a significant investigation which will continue for some time."

The seven suspects charged are expected to appear by video link at Medway Magistrates' Court today.

They are: David Payne, 42, of Rochester; Jennifer Arthy, 41, of Rochester; John Smale, 58, of Rochester; Christopher Owen, 29, of Rochester; Harry Shilling, 22, of Swanley; Michael Defraine, 29, of Bexleyheath; and Richard Rye, 24, of Swanley

A 28-year-old man from Swanley has been released on bail pending further inquiries until September 24.