Firearms dealer faces jail over huge gun find

A firearms dealer found guilty of helping a seemingly respectable parish council chairman amass the biggest hoard of illegal weapons ever uncovered in the UK is expected to be jailed. 

Police found more than 400 firearms in the home of James Arnold, 49, in the village of Wyverstone, Suffolk, as part of checks on his firearms licence in April last year.

The haul gradually came to light as officers spent six weeks searching his isolated rural home, carrying out controlled explosions and discovering a secret room hidden behind a false wall in his kitchen.

Crane operator Arnold, chairman of Wyverstone Parish Council, was due to face a string of firearms charges, including possessing an Uzi sub-machine gun and an AK-47 assault rifle, but died of cancer in July last year.

Anthony Buckland, 65, from Stoke Holy Cross, Norfolk, was found guilty of 11 counts of selling a prohibited weapon and nine counts of fraud following a trial at Norwich Crown Court. The charges relate to a small part of the weapons cache.

Buckland will return to court for sentencing on Friday and Judge Stephen Holt has already warned him he faces a lengthy jail term.

Speaking at the last hearing, he said: ''As you know, Parliament has said the minimum sentence for this is one of five years.''

Prosecutor Andrew Oliver told the court the discovery was the ''biggest stash of weapons this country had ever experienced''.

No explanation as to why Arnold collected the weapons was offered during the trial.

Suffolk Police are expected to comment further after sentencing.

Buckland earlier told the court he had known Arnold for more than 25 years.

Records showed he supplied 26 weapons to a man called JJ Hambrose, who the prosecution say was a fictitious character, between 2000 and 2013.

Sixteen of these weapons were found at Arnold's house in his ''hidden room''.

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