Two men have been jailed for a total of 29-and-a-half years after setting up a handgun factory supplying weapons to London’s criminal underworld.
Kyle Wood and Greg Akehurst, both 30, and a third man, Mark Kinman, 63, were in the process of manufacturing around 120 weapons at the site in Hailsham, East Sussex, when it was raided on August 18 last year.
The National Crime Agency (NCA) believes the illegal factory, which operated under the name MFK Engineering, is the first of its kind to be uncovered in the UK.
The weapons were based on the design of the Browning 1922-type pistol by building a template from an original.
None of the weapons had serial numbers or manufacturers’ markings, indicating they had been made by Kinman – the craftsman of the operation – from scratch.
Wood, from Littlehampton, West Sussex, and Akehurst, of no fixed address, were tracked to the industrial estate on Diplocks Way and tried to flee, resulting in a standoff with an NCA firearms unit.
Akehurst was quickly detained and was found with a loaded firearm tucked in his waistband, but Wood tried to escape on foot and pulled a handgun from his pocket, prompting officers to Taser him.
He was found to have a plastic bag full of ammunition on him following his arrest.
Kinman left the MFK unit a short while later and was found to have three rounds of ammunition in his pocket upon arrest.
Akehurst was jailed for 18 years at Kingston Crown Court after admitting possessing a firearm and conspiracy to sell or supply firearms.
Wood was jailed for 11-and-a-half years after admitting conspiracy to sell or supply firearms on the first day of his trial on May 1, having previously admitted possession of a firearm.
Kinman admitted the same charges but died in prison before he could be sentenced.
Since the three were arrested, six guns made at their factory have been found by police – one of which had been used in two attempted murders in the capital.
NCA deputy director of investigations Chris Farrimond said following the sentencing: “This case is unique. It is the first time that the NCA or indeed any UK law enforcement has found an illegal gun factory of this nature.”
He added: “The weapons being made there were lethal and for the criminal marketplace. The fact they had no serial markings made them all the more valuable to criminals.
“They represented a direct and real danger to our communities. A number of the weapons manufactured there we know have been used to commit violent acts on the streets.”
Detective Chief Inspector Steve Rayland, of Sussex Police, said: “Intelligence gathered by our officers was instrumental in helping to start this NCA investigation, and our local officers, with our specialist search and firearms teams, also provided valuable support when NCA officers carried out the arrests in Hailsham.”
He added: “This is another example of the way in which intelligence gathered from local people can impact on the constant need to combat organised criminality at national level.
“However, there is no evidence that the weapons being produced were intended for use in Sussex, or that there was any specific risk to communities in Sussex.”