Paul Edmunds

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Unfortunately it takes just one person, as this case shows, to act in breach of the trust placed in them. Death and mayhem follow.
~ Judge Richard Bond[1]
They were like the Breaking Bad of the gun world - on the face of it, both decent men, but using their skills and expertise to provide deadly firearms.
~ Detective Constable Phil Rodgers[2]

Paul Edmunds is a British gangland arms dealer. From 2009 to 2015 he supplied almost 300 guns and industrial quantities of ammunition to serious organised criminals. His arsenal of weapons have been linked to crimes including murder. He acquired illegal guns by importing them from America with false paperwork that wrongly stated he was legally importing useless antiques. He also imported legal antique guns, but made them deadly again by manufacturing homemade ammunition for the obsolete calibre weapons. The unregistered guns were untraceable to the criminals using them.

In late 2017 he was sentenced to 30 years in prison.

Gun conspiracy

Operations

The conspiracy run by Edmunds can be traced back to 2008, when he met a physiotherapist called Mohinder Surdhar at a legal gun fair.[3] Edmunds began supplying guns and ammo to Surdhar, who transferred them on to gangster Sundish Nazran.[4] This brought them into control of Birmingham's Burger Bar Gang, who kept some and sold more on.[3] Guns and bullets linked to the conspiracy were used in various locations around England, including London, Greater Manchester, Nottinghamshire, South Yorkshire, Leicestershire, Warwickshire, West Yorkshire and Derbyshire.[4]

The conspiracy stretched from 2009 to 2015,[1] when Edmunds was arrested and police discovered three illegal armouries used by him.[5] A total of 280 guns were illegally imported from the United States, and when he was jailed in December 2017 207 of them remained in criminal circulation.[3] He also manufactured bullets with disused callibres in order to make lawful vintage guns useful to criminals again.[4] This method is used by criminals to try and source handguns, as new weapons are hard to acquire following laws brought in after the Dunblane massacre.[3]

Impact

The massive gun-running business was linked to 107 crime scenes.[5] His weapons have been linked to an attempt to shootdown a police helicopter during riots in 2011.[6] On Boxing Day 2013 four of Edmunds's illegal handmade bullets were used to murder a man in a London nightclub.[4][2] Ammunition linked to Edmunds was found in 2015 when Derek Myers was murdered in Birmingham.[2] An unfired round from Edmunds was at the scene of March 2016 murder of Kenichi Phillips in Birmingham.[5] More than 1,000 bullets from Edmunds have turned up at crime scenes.[4] Edmunds had not registered any guns, making them untraceable.[6]

Edmunds supplied bullets to return vintage French, Russian, and US weapons to use, and imported illegal Colt handguns from the 1950s following trips to Chicago, Las Vegas and Denver.[3] He abused his position as a lawful registered firearms dealer to forge customs documents, allowing him to falsely claim the Colt handguns were obsolete antiques.[4][3] He spent £250,000 on his crimes, but stood to make a profit of up to £375,000.[6]

Investigation

in 2009 investigators at the National Ballistics Intelligence Service noticed an increase in vintage weapons and handmade ammo linked to criminal gangs.[3] Each round of ammunition had a unique 'fingerprint' left by the four different tools needed to create it, proving a single point of supply for all the bullets.[3] This was proved by examining the bullets with a microscope.[4] Police and NBIS launched Operation Gold Dust to track down the culprits.[6]

Police, noting the guns and ammo came mostly from the West Midlands area of England, rounded up Burger Bar gangsters and 16 were found guilty, but this operation also sent officers in the direction of Edmunds and Surdhar.[3] Edmunds was first identified when police raiding Surdhur's home found an invoice from Edmunds.[6] Police raided his home in Hardwicke, Gloucestershire, England.[1] Edmunds filed down a tool involved in the bullet-making in order to destroy evidence when he realised the police were on to him.[5] He told police when interviewed he "didn’t give a shit" about gun crime victims, he was "not responsible for the actions of somebody that buys some thing", and his only obligation was to avoid selling to anyone that "didn’t look right".[3]

His garage contained 100,000 live rounds of ammunition.[1] Police found his armouries where weapons were stored and ammunition manufactured: One each in his garage, bedroom, and attic.[6] They also found a register kept by Edmunds filled with false entries to cover his crimes, and documents detailing everything he needed to manufacture various obscure callibres for vintage guns.[6]

Trial

Edmunds and Surdhar were charged with conspiracy to transfer prohibited weapons and ammunition, with Edmunds also charged with two counts of perverting the course of justice, transferring prohibited weapons, possession of prohibited weapons, exporting ammunition illegally, and importing firearms illegally.[3] These charges included an allegation he unlawfully held an air pistol and the destruction of evidence.[5] The export charge involved putting thousands of rounds into the boot of his car and smuggling them into France in 2014.[7]

Surdhar pleaded guilty, but Edmunds went to trial.[1] In April 2017 a jury failed to reach a verdict on the conspiracy charges, leading to an October retrial.[7] He was found guilty of all charges, except the ammunition export charge which he admitted, and in December 2017 was sentenced to 30 years in prison.[3] Murder victim Kenichi Phillips's parents were in court and watched him get sentenced.[5] He was 66.[4]

References