Guard gets 11 years for plot to sell arms secrets

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The Independent Online

A security guard was jailed for 11 years by the Old Bailey yesterday for trying to sell military secrets to the Russians.

A security guard was jailed for 11 years by the Old Bailey yesterday for trying to sell military secrets to the Russians.

Raphael Bravo's plan foundered when the "foreign spy" with whom he was dealing turned out to be an agent for MI5, which was tracking every move.

Bravo, 30, who was said to be a loner, had joked with work colleagues about selling secrets to the Russians or the Libyans, the court was told. He took the documents from unlocked filing cabinets during night-time patrols on his "dead-end" job. Bravo, who confessed to police that his knowledge about spying came from James Bond films and spy novels, expected to be paid a few thousand pounds for the secrets.

The court was told his crimes could have threatened lives and seriously damaged the security of Britain and its allies if it had succeeded. Bravo was said to have been working purely for financial gain and there was no evidence he had a political motive or had acted with anyone else.

His hatched his plan after he returned from a break in the United States last year with financial problems and "post-holiday blues".

His job with Crusader, a private security company, meant he was able to get at the documents kept at BAE Systems headquarters in Stanmore, north-west London. After taking the files, he looked up the number of the Russian embassy but only got an answering machine when he called. He then sent a document with an attached note saying the Russians should contact him on his pager if they wanted to see more files.

When the documents were found to be missing, suspicion immediately fell on Bravo, whose fingerprints were found at the scene of the theft. Ten agents started to follow him.

An MI5 agent posing as a Russian contacted Bravo on 22 August and he arranged a meeting at the White House Hotel in central London. When he was asked what he had to offer, Bravo replied: "Similar stuff." He added: "I could go to prison for this." Asked what he wanted, he told the agent: "Money, as much as I can get."

Bravo handed over documents and was arrested as he left the hotel. During questioning he told investigators that he believed Russia was a less dangerous country to sell secrets to than China or Iraq. "I had no idea it was so serious. I just came up with this crazy get-rich-quick scheme," he said.

At an earlier hearing, Bravo, from Willesden, north-west London, admitted taking documents that gave details of electronic systems designed to protect British and Nato ships and aircraft from enemy missiles. All the classified documents were recovered.

He was charged with theft and offences under the Official Secrets Act dating from June and July last year. He pleaded guilty to nine counts and asked for two others to be considered. Judge Hyam told him: "Anyone who has put at risk his country's security must expect to receive long sentences. Such conduct must be deterred and must be punished."

The court was told that security systems at BAE were now under review.

Commander Roger Pearce, the Metropolitan Police's director of intelligence, said: "This man abused his position of trust and his actions could potentially have put lives at risk."