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Prosecuting International and Organised Crime

Drug trafficking, people trafficking, use of firearms, money laundering, internet crime, fraud, serious robbery and organised vehicle crime at home and internationally, are all dealt with by the International Justice and Organised Crime Division. A specialist team of experienced prosecutors, the International Justice and Organised Crime Division work closely with the police and international law enforcement agencies to bring criminals to justice.

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Five guilty for their involvement in importing "deadly weapons" into UK


Harry Shilling and Michael Defraine have been found guilty today at the Old Bailey for their involvement in importing and possessing firearms with intent to endanger life.

Both were involved in organised criminal activity along with David Payne, Richard Rye and Christopher Owen, who pleaded guilty at earlier hearings.

All five were involved in illegally importing 22 assault rifles and nine sub-machine guns. The weapons were brought into the UK on a boat called the Albernina which was moored in Kent.

The prosecution said the importation was planned and paid for by Harry Shilling. He used Michael Defraine to arrange the transportation of the weapons from the continent. Richard Rye was the go-between, arranging the importation through David Payne, the captain of the boat. The prosecution case was that Jennifer Arthy and John Smale helped him purchase the boat and to maintain it, and together with Christopher Owen helped unload its cargo.

Tom Guest, Specialist Organised Crime Prosecutor at the Crown Prosecution Service, said: "These defendants imported deadly weapons, including 22 assault rifles which fire automatically and have a devastating capability. These guns were working weapons which came with a large amount of ammunition and were clearly intended for use. The evidence showed Harry Shilling intended to use the weapons for his own means, and to arm criminal associates.

"This was a sophisticated operation involving weapons with a lethal capacity. The CPS built a strong case, working with the NCA, Kent Police and international partners, not only around the organised crime gang's plot to import the weapons - but also about the intentions for their deadly future use.

"The prosecution deployed key evidence of email messages to demonstrate the criminality in this case. The defendants said they were " officially gangsters", they were "proper heavy and armed to the teeth" and said people should "duck and run for cover". Harry Shilling described his group as being an "armed cartel" following the importation.

"Each defendant played an important role in this operation and was well aware of the danger of these firearms, and the consequences of their use."

Additional information


  • Count One: Being knowingly concerned in the fraudulent evasion of a prohibition on the importation of goods, contrary to section 170(2)(b) of the Customs and Excise Management Act 1979.
  • Count Two: Conspiracy to possess firearms with intent by means thereof to endanger life or to enable another person or persons by means thereof to endanger life, contrary to section 1(1) of the Criminal Law Act 1977.


  • Harry Shilling - guilty of both counts
  • Michael Defraine - guilty of both counts
  • Jennifer Arthy - not guilty of both counts
  • John Smale - not guilty of both counts
  • David Payne - pleaded guilty to both counts
  • Richard Rye - pleaded guilty to both counts
  • Christopher Owen - pleaded guilty to Count One


Notes to Editors

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