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Last Updated: Friday, 28 July 2006, 12:29 GMT 13:29 UK
Jail for underworld gun dealers
Paul (left) and Andrew Meekey
A weapons' factory was run from the Meekey's home
Three members of a gang that supplied hundreds of weapons to the underworld as part of London's largest gun conversion operation have been jailed.

Old Bailey judge Giles Forrester said the "acute public concern over the ever-rising tide of deadly weapons" required deterrent sentences.

Guner Salih, 59, of east London, was sentenced to 22 years.

Andrew Meekey, 30, was given 15 years and his father Paul, 60, was jailed for seven years. Both are from east London.

The trio were found guilty of supplying and possessing weapons on Thursday after a trial.

This was designed to provide criminals with the means of terrifying, if not maiming or killing, their victims
Judge Giles Forrester

Paul Meekey was also found guilty of possessing a weapon and ammunition.

The Old Bailey heard a large-scale factory, run from the Meekey's home in Leytonstone, changed replica Walther PPK handguns into deadly weapons.

Hundreds of these guns were then sold by military expert Salih under the cover of his Moderne Buckles shop in Bethnal Green Road, east London.

Judge Forrester said Salih's shop was "the hub of the firearms supply and network".

'Calculated and wicked'

When police raided the shop they found two converted firearms including numerous rounds of live ammunition "ideal for the criminal fraternity".

The judge said Salih and Andrew Meekey had taken part in a "premeditated, calculated and wicked" plot to put guns and ammunition into the public domain.

"This was designed to provide criminals with the means of terrifying, if not maiming or killing, their victims," he said.

When Salih was taken to the police station, a Colt was found in his pocket which contained five rounds of ammunition.

"You possessed that firearm for your own personal protection, bearing in mind your dangerous trade", said judge Forrester.

Salih, from Barkingside, had other partners besides the Meekeys. Two, Stephen Herbert and Gary Beard, are already serving jail terms.

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