Guy Savage: The man from P.I.N.N.E.R.
To his neighbours, Guy Savage was just another well-to-do resident of suburbia. Now he's fighting extradition to the US as an alleged global arms smuggler
Wednesday 26 October 2011
The flash of stun grenades and the crack of tyres being blown out are not usually associated with the tree-lined streets of Pinner, North-West London. But this is what the residents of Daymer Gardens experienced earlier this year, when their neighbour, an apparently inoffensive businessman living in an £800,000 home, was unveiled as an international arms dealer wanted by US police on smuggling charges.
Guy Savage, a married father-of-two and a former pupil at the exclusive £5,000-a-term Highgate School attended by Michael Mansfield, QC, and the former Home Secretary Charles Clarke, is now facing extradition to the US over allegations that some of his work selling weapons there fell foul of the law.
One neighbour – a 44-year-old hairdresser who has lived on Savage's road for 10 years – said the images of his arrest and his subsequent extradition hearing couldn't be further from the everyday activities of the quiet, family-orientated community.
"We are all shocked. It's not the sort of thing to happen in your road – it's very, very quiet here," she said.
"On the day, my two children were in bed asleep and I was out walking the dog. I returned to find absolute pandemonium. Police cars, vans and undercover cops everywhere.
"He seemed like a nice enough neighbour – he didn't seem like an arms dealer," she added.
But then not many people would have been able to spot his profession. He appeared just another middle-class professional going to work among the bankers and lawyers who live in the area.
Savage, 42, is the owner of Sabre Defence Industries, which has divisions in the US and the UK. He was also previously chairman of the Firearms Dealers Committee, which acts as a voice for his industry and advises Scotland Yard on gun licensing laws.
Despite his position, Savage was seized after the US authorities contacted the Met, alleging that he had been illegally exporting weapons between America and Britain.
Detectives went on to raid the weapons factory he ran a short distance away in Northolt, where they found an arsenal of automatic rifles, handguns and ammunition rounds.
Savage now faces being extradited to the US to stand trial for allegedly exporting weapons in crates with false bottoms and forging shipping records.
At a hearing at Westminster Magistrates' Court on Monday, Savage claimed he would be denied a fair trial if extradited and sentenced to life in an "inhumane" US jail.
"They [the US authorities] want to use me as a means to extort money from a sovereign individual and potentially imprison me for the rest of my life," he said.
"The US justice system is open to everyone in the same way the Ritz is open to everyone for tea."
He added: "The Met have subjected me to inhumane and degrading treatment and punishment for a crime that is yet to be proven."
Sabre Defence Industries had been trading in America for some time with a £125m contract to supply the Government with automatic rifles. But the Met says Savage came under suspicion after the US authorities began investigating his employees for selling weapons to gang members in 2009.
In a raid on the company's premises in Nashville, Tennessee, police found documents which suggested guns had also been smuggled from the UK to the US.
The Met's Detective Sergeant Nathan Coutts, who led the investigation from London, said: "The case came to us in May 2010. The US were claiming there were irregularities of firearms and their components being shipped from the UK to the US and the other way round.
"The firearms were all subject to licences but they were being shipped illegally. The fact you've got a licence doesn't give you carte blanche to do what you like."
Savage has been indicted by a US federal grand jury on charges relating to international firearms and trafficking violations. If found guilty on the more serious charges he faces 20 years in prison and a $1m fine.
Savage caused outrage in 1996 when he blamed families of the Dunblane massacre victims for ruining his livelihood.
He was banned from possessing and trading in guns in 1994 after a large collection of prohibited weapons was found at premises in St John's Wood.
Judge Nicholas Evans said he would give a written ruling on the extradition on 30 November.
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