England

Army base weapons theft jury unable to reach verdict

Stuart Pemberton (left) and Roger Smith
Image caption Stuart Pemberton (left) was cleared but jurors failed to reach a verdict on a count of handling stolen goods against Roger Smith (right)

A jury has been unable to reach verdicts on a number of charges against a former army captain accused of stealing weapons from an army base.

Peter Laidler, of Marcham, Oxfordshire, was acquitted of nine counts of theft and one of handling stolen goods.

The jury at Winchester Crown Court was unable to reach verdicts on a further four theft offences against him.

It also failed to reach a verdict on a count of handling stolen goods against Roger Smith, of Emsworth, Hampshire.

Mr Smith, 61, a Ministry of Defence police officer, was earlier acquitted of five charges of handling stolen goods.

Image copyright Chris Talbot
Image caption Peter Laidler had been on trial at Winchester Crown Court

Stuart Pemberton, 52, of Warminster, Wiltshire, was also found not guilty of one count of handling an allegedly stolen sniper rifle said to have been worth £50,000.

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 case has been listed to be heard at Salisbury Crown Court at the end of January to determine whether there will be a re-trial.

The trial heard Mr Laidler, 71, a former police officer, allegedly stole rifles while he worked as the armourer for the Small Arms School Collection in Warminster.

The defendants denied all the charges.

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