Page last updated at 16:20 GMT, Wednesday, 30 July 2008 17:20 UK

Converted guns 'used in murders'

A recovered Mac 10 sub-machine gun and components
The prosecution said 90 replica guns had been bought to be converted

Two men ran an illegal gun factory to turn replica guns into live weapons later used in 51 shootings including eight murders, a court has heard.

Grant Wilkinson, 34, and Gary Lewis, 38, deny nine charges of firearms offences after the discovery of weapons and ammunition near Reading last July.

Mr Wilkinson bought 90 replica guns in 2004, which he told the dealer were for a James Bond film, the jury heard.

But the prosecution told Reading Crown Court the guns were converted and sold.

The pair converted the replicas into real Mac 10 sub-machine guns in the factory at The Briars in Basingstoke Road, Three Mile Cross, jurors heard.

Prosecuting counsel John Price told the court that 51 shootings had been linked to guns which had been converted at the factory.

Eight of these were murders, 24 were non-fatal shootings and the other 19 were incidents where the gun was discharged but no-one hurt.

A total of 46 shootings took place in London, four in Birmingham and one in Manchester.

Inside the workshop
Polish tenants found the gun factory, jurors were told
The majority of the murders took place in London, dating back to the summer of 2004.

Mr Price told the court: "On 26 July 2005, a shooting in Denmark Hill, Peckham, which resulted in a fatality, involved one of these converted guns."

He also said that on 25 April 2005 police raided an address in Whitcomb Street, London, where they seized one of the converted Mac 10s alleged to have been made at the factory.

Mr Price said: "It is impossible to understate the find at The Briars, nor the seriousness of crime carried out across the country, mainly in Greater London, which has featured the carrying and discharging of Mac 10 sub-machine guns converted from replicas at the humble outbuildings here in Reading."

Mr Wilkinson, of no fixed address, and Mr Lewis, of Bourne End, Buckinghamshire, deny charges of conspiracy to convert imitation firearms, conspiracy to sell or transfer firearms and conspiracy to sell or transfer ammunition.

'Killing and maiming'

They also deny two counts of possessing a firearm with intent to endanger life, two counts of possession of a prohibited weapon and two counts of possession of ammunition with intent to endanger life.

The court heard Mr Wilkinson used a fake name to buy the 90 guns, worth 55,201, from Sabre Defence Industries in Middlesex.

The prosecution said three of these were found when police searched The Briars - one converted, one partially converted and one unconverted.

While a further eight - one converted, two partially converted and five unconverted - were recovered from a field in Juniper Lane, Buckinghamshire, last December.

The jury was told 39 other converted guns had been recovered from London, Birmingham, Southampton and the West Country.

This meant 40 of the original 90 replica guns were unaccounted for and probably already converted into live firing weapons, the prosecution said.

The larger of two outbuildings, referred to as the Workshop
The larger of the two outbuildings contained the workshop
Polish tenants of The Briars, along with a neighbour, found the gun factory when their curiosity led them to look inside two outbuildings at the rear of the semi-detached property, the court was told.

Inside the smaller outbuilding, referred to as the Test Room, 2,500 spent cartridges of ammunition were found along with three Mac 10 sub-machine guns in a sports holdall, jurors were told.

Precision tools and engineering equipment used to convert replica guns were found in the bigger outbuilding, referred to as the Workshop, the prosecution said.

Mr Price added that the neighbour suspected "he had stumbled upon a factory which had been set up to manufacture firearms and ammunition".

He went on to say Mac 10 sub-machine guns were military weapons used for the sole purpose of the "killing and maiming of human beings".

The case continues.




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