Littlehampton man guilty of selling untraceable firearms from illegal Hailsham gun factory

A Littlehampton man has admitting selling untraceable guns to the criminal underworld that were later used in attempted murders.

Wednesday, 1st May 2019, 3:07 pm
Updated Wednesday, 1st May 2019, 6:03 pm
One of the finished weapons. Pictures: NCA
One of the finished weapons. Pictures: NCA

Kyle Wood today pleaded guilty to conspiring to sell or supply firearms on the second day of his trial at Kingston Crown Court.

The charges related to the discovery of a firearms factory in an industrial unit in Hailsham, East Sussex, by the National Crime Agency (NCA) in August 2018.

Wood, 29, of Gratwicke Drive in Wick, Littlehampton fled after the raid but was chased by police.

Kyle Wood pleaded guilty today

But was Tasered and detained and officers found one of the pistols in his possession, along with 24 rounds of ammunition, his trial heard.

Guilty plea on day two of his trial

Two other men, Greg Akehurst and Mark Kinman, had previously pleaded guilty to charges. Kinman died in prison before he was able to be sentenced.

Akehurst and Wood are due to be sentenced at Kingston Crown Court on Wednesday 8 May.

A picture taken inside the gun factory

NCA deputy director of investigations Chris Farrimond said: “We know these weapons were lethal and for the criminal marketplace. The fact they had no serial markings made them all the more valuable to criminals.

"The fact that some of the weapons made here were used in violent acts on our streets shows that they represented a real danger to our communities.

"In dismantling this crime group we have stopped a supply line of criminal firearms and protected the public from the devastating impact of gun crime and violence.”

Riaz Jakhura, of the CPS, said: “This is one of the most significant firearm cases the CPS has prosecuted. We have not seen this amount of guns being made before.“As a result more than 100 guns have been kept off the streets and a major supply line to organised crime has been shut off.“This is especially significant as we know that some of the weapons made in this factory have been used in serious offences by criminals.

Pistols used in two attempted murders

Wood was arrested along with ‘manufacturer’ Mark Kinman and Greg Akehurst when officers from the National Crime Agency (NCA) raided the industrial unit on August 18, last year.

Prosecutor Matthew Farmer said at the trial: “They discovered the existence of a factory that was manufacturing self-loading pistols which were to be sold or transferred into the hands of the criminal underworld.

“An unknown number had already made their way into the hands of criminals and they were seized by police in and around London along with ammunition.

“On two occasions these pistols were used in attempted murder where people were shot.”

Indeed on one occasion one of the bullets manufactured in Hailsham was found lodged in somebody’s chest.

The Hailsham pistols have been linked to eight crime scenes in and around London from which six have been recovered.

Guns being manufactured on an 'industrial scale'

According to the prosecution, the guns were being copied from a Browning 1922 self-loading pistol, which was being used as a template.

Mark Kinman – who died before he could face trial – pleaded guilty last year to manufacturing the pistols.

Prosecutor Matthew Farmer described the operation as 'industrial scale' manufacturing.

Greg Akehurst, previously listed as of no fixed address, pleaded guilty to possession of a loaded firearm and ammunition which were found upon him when he was arrested on August 18, the court heard.

He also admitted conspiracy to sell or supply the pistols and possession with intent to cause a person to believe that unlawful violence would be used against them.