Gun Smuggler Jailed For 8 Years
1 June 2011, 15:28
A gun smuggler was jailed for 8 years today (Wednesday June 1st) after he was caught by a police officer dressed up as a DHL delivery driver.
The guns, which were being sent to Anthony Contos in Berkhamsted, Herts had been bought from Hells Angels in Berlin.
They were parcelled up in boxes marked "DJ equipment", Luton crown court heard today.
Prosecutor Jonathan Ramsey said a Walther PPK handgun and a Beretta pistol along with 19 rounds of ammunition were discovered in the box at a DHL depot in Leipzig, Germany on 24 November last year.
The German authorities contacted the UK Borders Agency and the next day a dummy package was taken to Contos' flat in Berkhamsted High Street by an officer from the Serious and Organised Crime Agency, who was dressed as a DHL employee.
Contos opened the door and gave the officer his driving licence as proof of identity. The officers left and moments later his colleagues arrested Contos and his girlfriend.
His flat was searched and five phials of testosterone steroid were discovered.
In a police interview body-builder Contos said he regularly imported steroids and growth hormone from Europe.
Mr Ramsey said Contos' phone was examined and they found messages indicating that he had a customer willing to pay £950 for the Beretta. In another message the man, who lived in the north of England, referred to the other gun saying: "I am interested in the 007 as well."
The German authorities questioned the man who had sent the package. He said he had paid 1700 Euros for the guns to Hells Angels in Berlin.
Privately-educated Contos, from High Street, Berkhamsted pleaded guilty to importing two self-loading pistols and 19 rounds of ammunition on or before November 24 last year. He also admitted possessing five phials of a Class C steroid on November 25 in Berkhamsted. He had no previous convictions.
Alison Morgan, defending, said Contos had a "myriad of problems" at the time of his arrest. She said that he had been abusing steroids. He had been bullied in his childhood as he was brought up as a Jehovah Witness. He had split up from his wife and their two children and his girlfriend at the time of his arrest had suffered a second miscarriage.
"He felt depressed and suicidal. He was not thinking straight," she said.
Judge John Bevan QC said: "The offence is aggravated by the ammunition. The ammunition turns a dangerous weapon into a lethal one.
"This had all the hallmarks of a commercial operation."
The judge ordered the forfeiture and destruction of the guns, ammunition and drugs.