Published: 12:17, 27 October 2017 |
Updated: 11:53, 30 October 2017
Two Lithuanians were jailed for a total of 25 years today after being caught at Dover trying to smuggle deadly weapons into the UK.
Gun couriers Aivaras and Gytis Vysniauskas, who say they are not related, were in a Peugeot 308 which was stopped in March last year.
Stashed inside a special compartment were ten Russian-made converted handguns, ten silencers and 100 rounds of 9mm ammunition.
Judge Rupert Lowe told them: “There is no doubt that the purpose of these weapons was to maim or kill people in the UK by criminal gangs in the UK.”
Gytis, 46, sacked his solicitor and barrister on the first day of the trial at Canterbury Crown Court and defended himself, asking questions through an interpreter.
He was found guilty of breaching UK laws on smuggling weapons and jailed for 15 years.
Aivaras,33, who pleaded guilty to the same three offences received a 10 year sentence.
Earlier, the judge asked Gytis if he had anything to say about sentence and he replied: “I don’t know what it is yet!”
After the judge explained mitigation, Gytis retorted: “Just do your job. I am not guilty. That’s all.”
Both men had said that they were heading to Great Yarmouth where Aivaras claimed he lived – but Border Force Officers were suspicious of the vehicle and carried out a detailed search.
The jury heard that officers discovered a “shiny” heat shield above the exhaust which appeared new.
Prosecutor Trevor Wright told the court: “The heat shield was removed and revealed a box section in the transmission tunnel about 30 inches long and eight inches wide.
“The car was lowered and the gear stick and hand brake housing was removed. It was then the officer saw what he suspected to be the hand grip of a handgun wrapped in brown paper.”
Ten converted weapons and silencers were then discovered and one was later successfully tested.
Aivaras told police he was offered £2000 to make the gun run and had carried out the conversion of the British-registered Peugeot himself in order the stash the weapons.
During the investigation, police discovered it had a fake British MOT certificate and the judge said the police should investigate the circumstances of the fraud.
Debbie Cook, Dover operations manager for the NCA, said: "“Aivaras and Gytis Vysniauskas were gun runners working for a criminal network, and our investigation into the wider network around them continues at home and overseas.
“These lethal weapons were destined for the criminal marketplace where they would have had the potential to do untold damage.
“Thankfully, working with Border Force we have managed to stop them reaching the streets of the UK and protected the public.”
Dave Hutchinson, Deputy Director of Border Force South East and Europe, said: “The smuggling of firearms through our border is a major threat to the safety and security of the UK.
"This was a sophisticated concealment but these dangerous weapons were stopped from reaching our streets due to the skills and expertise of Border Force officers.
“This case is testament to the tireless work of Border Force, who work 24/7 across our ports and airports to detect and seize dangerous items like these to keep the border secure and our communities safe.
“We will continue working closely with the NCA and other law enforcement partners to ensure criminals like Aivaras Vysniauskas and Gytis Vysniauskas, who seek to profit from the misery of others, are brought to justice.”
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