Gun runner jailed

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A man was found guilty today of converting replica submachine guns into lethal weapons which were later used in some of Britain's most notorious crimes, including eight murders.

Grant Wilkinson, 34, of no fixed abode, adapted replica Mac-10 guns in a garden shed in Berkshire. The weapons were then distributed to criminals in London.

A jury at Reading Crown Court convicted him of a series of offences, including conspiracy to convert an imitation firearm into a firearm, conspiracy to sell or transfer firearms and ammunition, possession of a firearm with intent to enable another person to endanger life and possessing a prohibited firearm, namely a Mac-10 submachine gun.

Verdicts are yet to be reached on Wilkinson's co-defendant Gary Lewis, 38, of Bourne End, Bucks.

Wilkinson's gun racket was discovered after one of his tenants pushed open the door of a shed in the garden at The Briars and found evidence of firearms and equipment for converting them. Police were then informed.

Mr Savage, the firearms dealer, said Wilkinson paid £55,000 in cash for 90 replica Mac-10s on the understanding that they were for a Bond film.

"We had supplied identical guns to someone working on the film Goldeneye so it seemed a reasonable order," Mr Savage said in evidence.

"He intimated they were for use in another Bond movie. He said some of the other prop hire companies were interested in getting some."

But Mr Savage said he became suspicious of Wilkinson, whom he described as "desperately disorganised" and "lacking confidence", and on one of Wilkinson's visits he secretly took a photograph of him on his mobile phone.

"He was acting in a way that made the hair on the back of your neck stand up," Mr Savage told the court. "He was acting suspiciously. I just figured I would take a picture in case it ever had cause to be relevant." The image was later handed to police investigating the case.

The court heard police found evidence of 11 guns at The Briars, and buried at another location, in Wooburn Green, Buckinghamshire.