Suffolk parish chairman’s hidden gun room

Police and bomb squad have been called to the Wyverstone property last year
Police and bomb squad have been called to the Wyverstone property last year
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A parish council chairman hid hundreds of illegal weapons including assault rifles and machine guns in a secret room in his house, a court has heard.

Details of the massive stash of guns discovered at the home of former Wyverstone Parish Council chairman James Arnold emerged this week at the trial of firearms dealer Anthony Buckland.

James Arnold, 49, was arrested last year by police investigating reports he had more weapons than his firearms licence allowed, prompting a four-week search of his home involving police and bomb disposal specialists.

At the time, a police spokesman described the haul as one of the ‘largest ever seizures of unlicensed firearms in mainland UK’.

Arnold was due to face a string of firearms charges with possession of machine guns and assault rifles, including an Uzi machine gun and an AK47, among them but the case was dropped following his death from cancer in July last year.

Jurors at Norwich Crown Court were told on Tuesday about Arnold’s gun haul as Buckland, 65, of Stoke Holy Cross, Norfolk, went on trial for supplying some of the weapons.

Buckland denies 20 charges including selling prohibited weapons and fraud by false representation.

The court heard that police gradually uncovered a large haul of machine guns, rifles, shotguns and ammunition in a concealed room accessed through a door in Arnold’s kitchen.

Prosecuting, Andrew Oliver said: “The firearms ranged from simple air rifles to pistols, handguns and shotguns to more serious weapons such as automatic machine guns.

“Some of those weapons are considered simply too dangerous for members of the public in this country to be in possession of.”

No explanation of why Arnold amassed the collection was offered to the court.

Records show Buckland supplied 26 weapons to a man called JJ Hambrose, who the prosecution say was a fictitious character, between 2000 and 2013.

Sixteen of those weapons were found in a ‘hidden room’ at Arnold’s house, Mr Oliver said.

Other weapons supplied by Buckland - including Russian Tokarev self loading rifles - were not legal for sale in this country.

Mr Oliver said the evidence suggested Buckland was motivated ‘simply by profit’, making several hundreds of pounds on each weapon he sold.

The court heard that when interviewed by police, Buckland denied selling any weapons to Arnold.

He said he had met JJ Hambrose at an auction in the 1980s and had carried out regular business with him after seeing his registered firearms dealer certificate.

He told police he would never sell a weapon to someone who was not entitled to own it.

The trial, which is expected to last up to three weeks, continues.