Ex-soldier cleared of handling 'stolen' sniper rifle

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Image copyright Chris Talbot
Image caption Stuart Pemberton had been on trial at Winchester Crown Court

A former soldier has been cleared of handling a stolen sniper rifle.

Stuart Pemberton, of Warminster, Wiltshire, had denied handling a stolen sniper rifle said to have been worth £50,000.

The 52-year-old was found not guilty of one count of handling stolen goods at Winchester Crown Court.

Two other men remain on trial over the alleged theft of weapons from a private collection on a British Army base in Warminster.

The guns - including SA80 assault rifles and historical Mauser and Lee Enfield weapons - were taken from the Small Arms School Collection (SASC), jurors had previously heard.

Peter Laidler, 71, of Marcham, near Abingdon, Oxfordshire, was found not guilty of five counts of theft but the jury is still deliberating on a further six charges of theft against him.

Image caption Stuart Pemberton (left) has been cleared while jurors are still deliberating a count of handling stolen goods against Roger Smith (right)

The former police and army officer, who was based at SASC, was acquitted by the judge of two further thefts and one count of handling stolen goods during the trial.

Roger Smith, 61, a Ministry of Defence police officer, of Bullfinch Close, Emsworth, Hampshire, has also been acquitted of five charges of handling stolen goods but the jury is still deliberating a further count of the same charge.

A fourth defendant, Adrian Bull, 64, of Devizes, Wiltshire, was earlier acquitted of three counts of handling stolen goods after the judge said there was no case to answer.

The trial continues.