Page last updated at 17:27 GMT, Monday, 21 September 2009 18:27 UK

Gun maker 'was a dealer in death'

Guns found in the Essex farmhouse
Alexander used aliases from television programmes and films

A former soldier - described in court as a "dealer in death" - has been told he faces a lengthy prison sentence for turning imitation guns into real ones.

Paul Alexander, 53, was due to be sentenced at Chelmsford Crown Court after admitting firearms offences.

But sentencing was adjourned to allow a background report to be prepared.

The court was told Alexander had operated a "gun factory" in Bardfield Saling, Essex. Forensic tests on the guns linked them to 28 crimes.

The tests linked the guns to crimes which had taken place in Liverpool, Manchester and Birmingham.

Alexander was arrested in 2008 after an operation involving Merseyside Police, Essex Police and the Serious Organised Crime Agency (Soca).

Guns or ammunition he manufactured have been linked to a murder and four attempted murders
Senior Soca officer

The court was told the operation was started in the wake of the shooting of 11-year-old Rhys Jones in Liverpool two years ago.

In July, Alexander appeared at Chelmsford Crown Court and admitted possession of firearms with intent to endanger life, possession of ammunition with intent to endanger life, converting imitation guns into real guns, possessing prohibited ammunition and money laundering.

Senior Soca officers told the court he was "a significant" criminal gun dealer and guns or ammunition he manufactured had been linked to 28 crimes, including a murder and four attempted murders.

They called Alexander a "dealer in death".

Detectives told the court Alexander used 30 aliases including the surnames of two fictional characters - Jason Bourne, who features in the Bourne trilogy of films, and Jack Bauer, a character in the television series 24.

Royal Artillery soldier

They said he was born Paul Daintry in Bury, Lancashire, in October 1955 and spent 20 years in the Royal Artillery before retiring as a sergeant with an exemplary record in 1992.

The court heard he was convicted of a number of offences in England and the United States between 1997 and 2004 and served a number of prison sentences.

Detectives told the court he had come to the attention of police in 1995 when he was accused of arson, setting fire to a council flat he lived in at in Stoke-on-Trent.

Lawyers for Alexander told Chelmsford Crown Court that he had complained about being regularly burgled but could not make a local authority listen. They said he had started the fire as a protest.

Caused explosion

Detectives said Alexander had been charged but failed to appear in court.

He had then been arrested in December 1996 by members of the United States Border Patrol when trying to travel into the US from Canada on a false passport.

Alexander was convicted of a passport offence and spent several months in prison in Vermont before being deported back to the UK and given a 12-month prison sentence for the Stoke-on-Trent arson.

In October 2002 he had been accused of causing an explosion in the garden of a house in Stone, Staffordshire.

His lawyers told Chelmsford Crown Court that he had been undertaking "surveillance work" for a client and had ignited a string of fireworks in order to distract security cameras.

Explosives offences

A detective said he had again gone missing and been caught in September 2003 in New York, having travelled from Brazil on a false passport.

Alexander had once more been returned to the UK and had been jailed for explosives offences at Stafford Crown Court in 2004.

He had been released in 2005 and set up home in Bath.

Three women were sentenced in connection with the case.

Caroline Hunter Mann Purdy, 59, and Rachel Hunter Mann, 39, were given two year community and supervision orders for money laundering.

Jasmine Purdy was sentenced to 12 months imprisonment for drugs offences. Purdy will be released as she has already served the time on remand.

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