Mystery woman jailed for arsenal

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The Independent Online
A "frightened" woman, who refused to reveal her age, name and nationality, was jailed for two and a half years yesterday for possessing guns and ammunition.

Known to speak German and believed to be in her thirties, she refused to co-operate with the court and spent most of last month's three-day hearing in the cells.

The jury at Knightsbridge Crown Court, west London, rejected her not- guilty plea and convicted her of possessing two self-loading pistols with silencers, 97 blank bullets, eight rounds of teargas, four flares and a police radio scanner.

The court heard how a German-registered Opel Vectra car, hired in Berlin and found illegally parked in Soho, central London, in June was towed to a Paddington car pound. Later that day she turned up to collect the car. She offered what she claimed was a solid gold coin for payment, but when that was rejected she jumped into the car and tried to drive off. However, pound staff blocked her exit, forcing her to make off on foot.

A few days later a holdall was spotted inside the car with a gun barrel sticking out of it, and when the woman returned she was arrested.

She denied the car was anything to do with her, and insisted an international driving licence in the name of Michelle Ilic, which was found in the vehicle, was not hers. She also told the court she was not the Michelle Ilic who, on the day of her arrest, was given a conditional discharge at Marlborough Street magistrates for theft.

Owen Davies, defending, said: "She has been so put in fear by other people involved that she cannot say anything about the circumstances in which she had the weapons."

Passing sentence, Judge Christopher Hordern said: "I can only conclude that she was in charge of those weapons for a criminal purpose of others."