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Last Updated: Thursday, 24 July, 2003, 13:24 GMT 14:24 UK
Machine gun lorry driver cleared
Dover docks
Customs officers x-rayed the lorry after it was stopped at Dover
A lorry driver caught with a haul of sub-machine guns in a truckload of frozen pizzas he was delivering to the UK has been cleared of possessing firearms by a court.

Orzen Pucarin, 42, was stopped at Dover last November by customs officers.

They found 30 Uzi guns, 29 silencers and 475 rounds of ammunition hidden in plastic bags in the spare tyre of the lorry, which was on its way to North Yorkshire.

Mr Pucarin, from Cutina in Croatia, claimed he had no idea the guns were there.

He denied three counts of possessing firearms, silencers and ammunition at Maidstone Crown Court.

Four-day trial

A jury of eight men and four women took less than two hours to return not guilty verdicts on each count on Thursday.

During the four-day trial, the court heard how Mr Pucarin had arrived at Dover on 7 November via Belgium and Germany carrying a load of frozen pizzas destined for a Tesco depot in Boroughbridge, North Yorkshire.

Customs worker Stephen Smith said he became suspicious when he banged the truck's spare tyre and it made a dull thud.

The guns, found when the truck was x-rayed, were tested and found to be in working order.

Rebuild his life

But the jury accepted Mr Pucarin's defence that he had simply been asked to deliver his load of pizzas to the UK and was not aware that the guns had been hidden on the truck.

Mr Pucarin, who is married with a 17-year-old son, wept as he walked free from court.

An interpreter relayed the verdicts to him.

Nick Doherty, defending, said: "This was a very serious case and we are delighted that justice has been done.

"Mr Pucarin is now going back to Croatia to rebuild his life and look after his wife, who has cancer. He is very grateful to the British legal system."


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