An arms dealer who arranged to sell 80,000 AK47 assault rifles and 32 million rounds of ammunition to Nigeria has been jailed for seven years, just months after a judge threw the case out of court.
Gary Hyde, 42, oversaw the £800,000 shipment of tens of thousands of assault rifles, 9mm pistols, rifles, and bullets, from China to Africa in 2007, according to the Telegraph.
Hyde, who started in the gun trade when he was 14, flouted British legislation designed to control the trade and transportation of the weapons despite being regarded as an “authority” on those laws.
The businessman, based in York, acted in “a deliberate and calculated breach of the law” to pull off the $1.3m (£808,000) deal in return for around £280,000, which he attempted to hide in a bank account in Liechtenstein.
The account was registered in the name of a trust of which Hyde and his children were named as the sole beneficiaries.
It is thought the weapons were being bought on behalf of the Nigerian Police Force.
The Nation could not reach the police authorities last night. Spokesman Frank Mba’s telephone was ringing but not replied.
After a ten-day trial in October, a jury unanimously convicted Hyde of two counts of breaching UK laws and one count of concealing criminal property.
Hyde, who has no previous convictions, was initially tried on the same charges in January of this year.
But several days into the first trial, Judge Nicholas Loraine-Smith discharged the jury and said: ‘I’ve come to the conclusion this fails in law on the particular facts of case.
“It is to do with the framing of the Trade in Goods (Control) Order 2003, the bedrock of this particular case.”
He later explained he had identified errors between guidance documents to the legislation and the legislation itself that meant it was not possible to continue.
He said: “In my view, the jury, properly directed, could not be satisfied that the defendant intended to evade that particular prohibition and accordingly I’ve concluded that this prosecution must fail.”
But prosecutors took the case to the Court of Appeal and the judge’s decision to terminate the trial was overruled. Southwark Crown Court then began the second trial and sentenced Hyde to seven years yesterday.
Prosecutor Mukul Chawla QC said: “This case is about the shipment of huge quantity of guns and ammunition from China to Nigeria in 2007.
“That shipment, because it was being partly arranged and organized from the UK by Gary Hyde, required the permission of the Department for Business, Innovation, and Skills in the form of a license.
“Mr Hyde, despite knowing that such a license was required, helped to organize that shipment without seeking and obtaining the required license.
“This was not an oversight but, say the prosecution, a deliberate and calculated breach of the law.
“In order to ensure that his illegal activities were not drawn to the attention of the UK authorities he placed, and thus concealed, the profits from this illegal trade in to a bank account in Liechtenstein.”
Mr Chawla said Hyde flouted UK legislation despite being “very familiar” with it.
“You will see evidence that he is in fact seen to be something of an authority on the matter,” he said.
Hyde, who was director of York Guns Ltd and Jago Ltd, based in Britain, brokered the deal alongside German businessman Karl Kleber, the owner of Transarms Handelgesellschaft, based in Worms, in Germany.
They dealt with two Irish men, Brendan Cahill and Neil Murray, who represented the Polish companies Deftech Ltd and Pinimi Ltd, which were acting for the Nigerian purchaser.
The guns had originally been expected to come from Chinese firm China Jing An Import and Export Corp, but the deal fell through and Hyde and Kleber turned to another Chinese firm, Poly Technologies Inc.
Commission agreements were signed for Hyde on behalf of a company called EWH Consultancy Ltd, which had been incorporated by Hyde in the British Virgin Islands in 2004. The sole shareholder of EWH was Hyde’s WHEK Trust.
Hyde smuggled 40,000 AK47 assault rifles, 30,000 other rifles, 10,000 9mm pistols and 32m rounds of ammunition.
He claimed he had not been in the UK at critical times when the deal was being negotiated and therefore had not flouted UK legislation.
In a prepared statement, given after his arrest in 2009, Hyde said: “I do not believe that I engaged in any activity in the UK which I understand required a license but where instead I decided to ignore that obligation.”
Stephen Solley QC, defending, had argued he was a “legitimate businessman” and said the allegation he knowingly broke UK law was “ludicrous”.
He said: “The idea you could be sure this man put two fingers up to the criminal law knowingly is completely ridiculous.”
Jailing Hyde, Judge Loraine-Smith said: “You are a man of good character who started work at York Guns when you were only 14, and by 2003 you had built that into an international wholesaler with 20 staff.
“There were numerous lawful and properly completed deals, many involving this country’s armed forces, but then you became carried away with the enormous profits you could see could be made.
“I accept that you opened the account in Liechtenstein to reduce your tax liabilities in lawful ways but it was conveniently there for you to launder the money from this unlawful deal.
“Applying for a license would have been very easy, but I very much suspect that you thought that applying for a license would have risked the UK authorities finding out about your substantial earnings.”
He added: “You have shown a lot of remorse for the position you find yourself in but it was not reflected by a guilty plea.”
Hyde, of Mask Lane, Newton on Derwent, Yorkshire, denied two counts of becoming knowingly concerned in the movement of controlled goods between March 1, 2006, and December 31, 2007, and one count of concealing criminal property between March 1, 2006, and December 16, 2008.