Army captain 'stole weapons' from Warminster museum

Winchester Law Courts Image copyright Chris Talbot
Image caption Prosecutors said some of the guns bore serial numbers of weapons recorded as having been destroyed

A former army captain stole rifles and weapon parts from a museum on an army base, a court has heard.

Peter Laidler, 71, is accused of 13 thefts between 1998 and 2016 while based at the Small Arms School Collection (SASC) in Wiltshire.

Some of the weapons were sold on while others were kept at his home, Winchester Crown Court was told.

Mr Laidler, of Marcham, Oxfordshire, also faces one count of handling stolen goods. He denies all the charges.

Three other men - Roger Smith, Adrian Bull and Stuart Pemberton - also deny handling stolen goods.

Image caption Stuart Pemberton (left) and Roger Smith deny handling stolen goods

The guns - including SA80 assault rifles and historical Mauser and Lee Enfield weapons - were taken from the collection in Warminster, jurors heard.

Matthew Jewell QC, prosecuting, said some bore serial numbers of weapons which were recorded as having been destroyed.

Several were sold or given by Mr Laidler to Fultons, a firearms dealership in Bisley, Surrey, Mr Jewell said.

'Forged signatures'

The court heard Mr Laidler sold three of the rifles to Fultons for £19,750.

But he told police many of the weapons he obtained from the collection were "valueless" or "incapable of discharging", Mr Jewell said.

In one case, forged signatures were found on a document authorising the release of an assault rifle from SASC to the former officer, the jury was told.

The court heard the defendant gave himself permission to take weapons, telling police: "I am the boss... I was the clearance."

Roger Smith, 60, a Ministry of Defence police officer, of Emsworth, Hampshire, faces six counts of handling stolen goods.

Firearms dealer Adrian Bull, 64, of Devizes, Wiltshire, is accused of three counts of handling stolen goods.

Stuart Pemberton, 51, a former soldier, of Temple, near Corsley, Wiltshire, is charged with handling a stolen sniper rifle, which was later sold for £30,000.

The trial continues.

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