Steven Cardwell found guilty of gun running

A man from Merseyside has been found guilty of selling guns which had been smuggled into the UK on commercial flights from the United States.

Steven Cardwell, from Aintree, sold the weapons to UK gangs. They were used in "serious criminal offences", Liverpool Crown Court heard.

He acquired them from a former US marine who broke them up and hid the parts in his luggage, the court heard.

The 31-year-old had denied conspiring to import, sell and possess firearms.

Cardwell, of Old Church Close, was remanded in custody. He will be sentenced on Friday.

The jury was discharged after being unable to reach a majority verdict on the same charges against a second man, Neil Copplestone, 32, of Ruff Lane in Ormskirk, west Lancashire.

Neil Flewitt QC said the prosecution would seek a retrail.

Mr Copplestone, who denies the charges, was bailed until a later date when a timetable for new proceedings will be set.

'Bodyguard to Madonna'

The guns were smuggled into the UK, at Manchester Airport, by American Steven Greenoe, who lived in Shropshire.

He was arrested at Raleigh Durham International Airport, in North Carolina, in July last year when an arsenal of 16 guns was found in his suitcase.

British prosecutors said that over the previous six months Greenoe had purchased a total of 81 firearms in gun shops in the US.

They believe he smuggled at least 63 of them into the UK. Only eight have been recovered.

Greenoe, who claimed to be a former captain in the US Marines and former bodyguard to Madonna, pleaded guilty to two counts of transporting guns outside the US without a federal export licence.

He is due to be sentenced in the US next month.

Louise Ellman MP, who chairs the Commons Transport Select Committee, said the case was "deeply disturbing".

She called on the government to press the US authorities for answers.

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