Jurors see pictures of Wyverstone hoard of illegal weapons
Photographs of a parish council chairman’s hidden room which housed the biggest hoard of illegal weapons ever found in the UK have been shown to jurors.
Police uncovered more than 400 firearms, including assault rifles and machine guns, in the home of James Arnold, 49, in Wyverstone in April 2014.
Arnold, chairman of Wyverstone Parish Council, was due to face a string of firearms charges but died of cancer in July last year.
Anthony Buckland, 65, from Stoke Holy Cross, Norfolk, is standing trial at Norwich Crown Court after pleading not guilty to selling prohibited weapons and fraud by false representation.
Prosecutor Andrew Oliver told the court that the discovery was the ‘biggest stash of weapons this country had ever experienced’.
Opening the case last week, Mr Oliver said firearms ranging from air rifles to pistols, handguns and shotguns, and to more serious weapons such as automatic machine guns, were found in a secret room in Arnold’s house.
The room was accessed through a hidden door in his kitchen. Officers also found a safe behind a false wall.
No explanation of why Arnold amassed the collection has been offered to the court.
Buckland told the court he had known Arnold for more than 25 years.
He said he had legally supplied him with guns and ammunition but would never have supplied him with illegal firearms.
Asked if he ever suspected Arnold of doing anything illegal, he added: “Good heavens, no.”
Asked about news coverage of the find, Buckland said he, like all people working in his industry, had been “glued to the television” but had not been worried about his involvement.
“There is no link to me because I had never supplied Arnold with anything illegal,” he added. “I didn’t start to panic whatsoever.”
The court has heard Buckland supplied 26 weapons to a man called JJ Hambrose, 16 of which were found at Arnold’s home. The prosecution has claimed Hambrose was a fictitious character.
Buckland insisted Hambrose was a genuine customer he had known since the 1980s.
Mr Oliver said police had contacted hundreds of other arms dealers who had no knowledge of Hambrose.
Buckland said: “He may not have been using that name.”
He denies 20 counts, some of which relate to Arnold and some to other customers.
He had converted many of the weapons, supposedly to make them legal, but the court has heard such a conversion was not technically possible.
The trial is expected to conclude later this week.
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