England

Warminster weapons trial: Pair in court over 'stolen' army rifles

deactivated L96 Accuracy International sniper rifle
Image caption A deactivated sniper rifle is among the weapons allegedly stolen from the Ministry of Defence

An ex British Army captain stole rifles and weapons components worth thousands of pounds from a Ministry of Defence (MoD) collection, a court heard.

Peter Laidler, 72, of Marcham, Oxfordshire, is accused of removing four items from the Small Arms School Collection in Warminster, Wiltshire.

Roger Smith, 51, a former military policeman from Emsworth, Hampshire, is accused of handling a stolen rifle.

The men have denied the charges at Winchester Crown Court.

Image caption Peter Laidler (left) and Roger Smith deny the charges against them

Matthew Jewell QC, prosecuting, said the weapons were stolen between 1998 and 2016 while Mr Laidler worked as the collection's armourer.

He told the jury: "We say he didn't have permission to take any of those parts or weapons or treat them as his own but that is precisely what he did."

The jury was shown pictures of the weapons involved including an SA80 assault rifle, a complete deactivated SA80 light support weapon, an L96 Accuracy International sniper rifle and a deactivated version of the same model.

Mr Smith is accused of handling an SA80 which was found at his home, the court heard.

The Small Arms School Collection is a Ministry of Defence compilation which chronicles the development of infantry weapons from the 16th Century to the present day.

The trial continues.

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