Man involved in smuggling guns and ammunition into the UK jailed
A man who provided machine guns and a pistol to be smuggled into the UK has been jailed for 12 years.
Andrew Billings, 31, was involved in importing two sub-machine guns and a loaded Luger pistol, as well as ammunition and a silencer, conspiring with two other men to possess the guns with intent to endanger life.
Billings supplied the guns in the Netherlands and worked to find a prospective buyer for them once they were in the UK. He liaised with two men, Mark Maynard and Nicholas Barbary, to organise a trip to pick up the firearms.
They used strong magnets to stow the guns to the underside of a tourist coach returning from Europe. They also attached a tracker to follow the coach’s journey back to its depot in Coventry before Maynard and Barbary picked the firearms up in a van.
Throughout this, Billings was in contact to check where the guns were and to make arrangements to sell them. Maynard and Barbary were stopped by police while driving back to Crawley and the three guns, along with a silencer and a package of ammunition containing 13 live rounds for the pistol and 166 live rounds for the submachine guns were found.
Maynard and Barbary have already been sentenced to 16 years, two months and 12 years in prison respectively in August 2017. Billings was extradited from the Netherlands and subsequently admitted the offences at Lewes Crown Court on 24 November 2018. He was jailed at the same court yesterday (28 June).
Tom Guest, of the CPS, said: “Andrew Billings took on a leading role in this conspiracy to bring dangerous guns and ammunition into the UK. While he did not take part in physically bringing the prohibited items into the country, he was in constant contact with the men to ensure arrangements were made to sell the guns he had bought.
“The CPS worked closely with Sussex Police to build this case, issuing its first European Investigative Order to secure evidence from Belgium.
“The overwhelming evidence presented by the CPS showing Billings’ involvement of this importation left him with no choice but to plead guilty to these offences.”
Billings was found to have made £50,000 from his crimes. He was also ordered to repay a confiscation order of £11,495. He was given three months to pay or would face seven months in prison. Barbary had a benefit figure of £49,444.58 but had a realisable amount of £100 and was given three months to pay. Maynard was found to have made £10,000 but a realisable amount of £1.
Notes to editors
- Tom Guest is a Specialist Prosecutor at the Crown Prosecution Service.
- The CPS issued its first European Investigation Order to secure evidence from Belgium. This meant investigation could be undertaken in Belgium to obtain the evidence against Billings.
- Billings was jailed for 12 years and will have to serve two thirds of his sentence before being considered for release. He will then have an extended license period of four years.