Firearms Dealer Convicted Of Conspiracy
14th November 2017
A 66 year old man has been convicted of conspiracy to transfer firearms and homemade ammunition which ended up in the hands of dangerous criminals. NABIS expert Gregg Taylor spotted matching tell-tale tool marks on various ballistic items coming into the Birmingham lab from around the UK.
Ammunition made by Paul Edmunds in the garage of his Gloucestershire village home was recovered by detectives at the scene of more than 100 shootings, including the Birmingham murders of Derek Myers and Kenichi Phillips.
West Midlands Police linked him to a gun crime spike across the UK and worked in conjunction with NABIS ballistics expert Gregg Taylor; who gave evidence at the Birmingham Crown Court trial.
Firearms fanatic Edmunds hand crafted bespoke bullets for use in obsolete calibre weapons, like late 19th Century St Etienne and Smith & Wesson revolvers. He brought these firearms into the country legally, as collector's items.
But Edmunds - a Registered Firearms Dealer - also imported prohibited guns from the US; he falsely signed customs paperwork claiming they were antiques.
Edmunds (DOB 24/06/1951) supplied the guns and ammunition to respected physiotherapist Dr Mohinder Surdhar - who he met at a Birmingham gun fair in 2008 - who in turn sold them on to crime gangs.
West Midlands Police arrested Edmunds in July 2015 at his Hardwicke home where officers found 100,000 rounds of ammunition in his caged armoury, as well as more bullets and gun components strewn around his bedroom and attic.
A total of 17 guns imported by Edmunds from the US, plus 1,000 rounds of ammunition linked to him, have been recovered by police at UK crime scenes. This includes a link to an incident during the Birmingham riots in 2011 when the police helicopter was shot at.
The 17 are made up of nine Colt revolvers that were smuggled into the UK as antiques when in fact they were prohibited firearms. Eight were genuine antique revolvers,found with his homemade ammunition.
But it is suspected more guns seized by police across the country passed through Edmunds' hands; the exact number isn't clear as Edmunds failed to accurately record serial numbers in his firearms register.
His Honour Judge Bond presided over the six week trial at Birmingham Crown Court. Edmunds was found guilty of conspiracy to transfer prohibited firearms and ammunition. His accomplice, Surdhar (17/08/1959) of Grove Lane, Handsworth, had already admitted the same offence.
Edmunds was also found guilty on two counts of perverting the course of justice. These relate to doctoring his firearms register to cover his tracks and also filing down components of his bullet making press in a bid to distance himself from markings on casings recovered at crime scenes. Edmunds tampered with a primer tool in an effort to destroy any future ballistic comparison markings. The pair will be sentenced next month.
Head of NABIS, Detective Chief Superintendent Jo Chilton, said: "This was a lengthy and complex operation which commenced due to the work of NABIS. It was a ground- breaking investigation by one of our ballistics experts, Gregg Taylor. He noticed the pattern of certain tool marks on the ammunition connected to many police incidents around various force areas. He worked closely with West Midlands Police who went on to lead the overall investigation.
"Our firearms experts at NABIS had noticed that since 2009, particularly in the Midlands, an increasing number of the police recoveries were of late 19thCentury military hand guns (obsolete calibre) for which there was no commercially available ammunition.
"I want to recognise and praise our ballistic expert Gregg's painstaking work on this case; the evidence he presented during the trial contributed to the convictions.
"I also want to point out that the vast majority of Registered Firearms Dealers in the UK are law abiding and give police no cause for alarm. However, Paul Edmunds played a dangerous role in providing firearms and ammunition for criminals and is now paying the price for that. His convictions send a strong message to anyone considering involvement in this type of activity that they will be identified and dealt with accordingly."
Detective Constable Phil Rodgers from West Midlands Police's Force CID, who led the investigation, likened Edmunds and Surdhar to unlikely crooks Walter White and Jesse Pinkman from hit TV show Breaking Bad.
He said: "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.
"But this was no TV drama - these were real weapons; real bullets; real victims. Their actions have had a devastating impact on communities by fuelling violent crime, leading to fear and bloodshed.
"Edmunds has an encyclopaedic knowledge of firearms. It's not an easy task making obsolete calibre bullets fit antique guns; it would have taken several days to make a box of 50. Surdhar also had an armoury at his home and we believe Edmunds was teaching him the art of bullet making.
"Our investigation has undoubtedly prevented many more firearms and countless rounds of ammunition getting into criminal hands and, in all likelihood, saved lives. Edmunds, a firearms licence holder with Home Office approval to hold up to 30 prohibited guns, imported 280 weapons from the US between 2009 and 2015 at a total cost of around £250,000.
Many were antique, obsolete calibre revolvers - including St Etienne. 9.4mm Dutch and .44 Russian military revolvers dating back to the 1870s - for which he made ammunition from his Brook Cottage armoury in Bristol Road.
But he also imported Colt pistols from the 1950s following trips to Chicago, Las Vegas and Denver and declared them as antiques in obsolete calibre to avoid using an import licence and to give the appearance they were non-licensable firearms to Heathrow Airport customs officials. However, only pre-1939 guns are currently attributed "antique" status. Many of these guns were found to be older models, in current calibre and therefore prohibited firearms in the UK, none of which were recorded in Edmunds' firearms register.
One Colt revolver Edmunds brought into the country via Heathrow on 4 April 2011 was found by West Midlands Police officers just 25 days later in a bag hidden behind a block of flats in Selbourne Road, Handsworth.
It was loaded with bullets that ballistics experts at NABIS proved were made in Edmunds' armoury by matching microscopic lines on the casings with those on his ammunition.
Edmunds also smuggled a Colt Police Positive pistol into the country on 11 November 2013 that was used the following month to shoot dead a man at a Christmas party in London's Avalon nightclub. The gun was found in a rucksack in London two years later and forensic examination from test firing proved it to be the same weapon used in the club killing.
And bullet casings found at the scene of both Derek Myers' fatal shooting in Soho Hill in October 2015 and Kenichi Phillips in Ladywood in March last year were shown to have been hand made by Edmunds.
Det Con Rogers, added: "Edmunds claimed he had no idea Surdhar was passing the guns to criminals we didn't believe him and clearly neither did the jury."In interview he spoke candidly about his disdain for the UK's strict laws on firearms and the handgun ban introduced in the wake of the Dunblane tragedy. And he's used his position of authority in the firearms world to help him bring guns into the country undetected. We also know he once took 6,000 live rounds of ammunition to a buyer in France in the boot of his car, via the Eurostar, with no export documentation and without telling the authorities.
"It's hard to overstate the significance of these convictions: we have cut off a major firearms supply chain and one that's been used by dangerous men to commit serious offences.
Around 400 rounds of ammunition originating from Edmunds' stores were found by West Midlands Police at an address in Baltimore Road,Great Barr, on 19 November 2014. An 1873 St Etienne imported into the UK in January 2010 by Edmunds was later uncovered by officers at an address in Kirby Road, Coventry, on 21 July 2012.
NABIS started in 2008 and offers police forces fast time intelligence to help tackle gun crime. Our experts had started to spot similarities in markings on ammunition as far back as 2009. NABIS are co-ordinating the national firearms surrender which runs for two weeks from 13th to 26th November 2017.
The Home Office launched a public consultation in Oct 2017 to ask for views on proposals to changes in legislation relating to obsolete calibre firearms. The consultation period ends on 14 December 2017, visit http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/ for more information.