UK’s largest ever gun haul discovered in Wyverstone can be destroyed, court rules

Suffolk Police held a media briefing on Operation Cannington  the discovery of a weapons haul at Wyverstone in April 2014. ANL-160218-153216001

Suffolk Police held a media briefing on Operation Cannington  the discovery of a weapons haul at Wyverstone in April 2014. ANL-160218-153216001

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The country’s biggest arms haul ever found, discovered in Wyverstone, can now be destroyed after a legal challenge to save them was withdrawn.

The stash of 463 weapons, which included 177 rifles, 136 handguns, 88 shotguns, 38 machine guns, an anti-tank missile, as well as 200,000 rounds of ammunition, was found in the spring of 2014 at the home of then parish council chairman, James Arnold.

He died in custody from cancer in July 2014.

The challenge was lodged by his wife, Lyn Arnold, through law firm Ashtons, shortly after police began cutting up the weapons in April this year.

But Mrs Arnold didn’t attend the hearing at South East Suffolk magistrates’ court on Tuesday and emailed the clerk to say she was withdrawing her challenge.

Magistrates subsequently made a destruction order.

It has never been said on what grounds the challenge was made to the legality of police chopping up the illegally-held weapons.

It means Suffolk Constabulary can start destroying what is left of the haul, thought to be about 420 weapons.

Mr Arnold, 49, never stood trial for the suspected crimes.

His friend Anthony Buckland, a gunmaker, of Stoke Holy Cross, was jailed for six years for supplying Arnold with some of his weapons.

At the time of Arnold’s death he had been charged with possessing a prohibited Uzi machine gun, an AK47 assault rifle, a bolt action shotgun and a self-loading rifled gun, but had been likely to face further accusations.

Police admit they will almost certainly never know why James Arnold amassed such an astonishing number of weapons.

The police operation was dubbed Operation Cannington, and cost Suffolk Constabulary £260,000.

Speaking in February, Detective Superintendent Steve Mattin, Suffolk Constabulary Senior Investigating Officer for Operation Cannington, said: “It’s probably the biggest find of this type of weaponry in the UK.”