Judge slams jail security ‘scandal’

Published: Thursday 26th February 2015 by The News Editor

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A judge has condemned as “a scandal” the “wholly inadequate” prison security that allowed an inmate to orchestrate a plot to use Parcelforce to import at least eight deadly Skorpion submachine guns into Britain from Germany.

Judge David Farrell QC called for an inquiry into security arrangements at HMP Wandsworth as he sentenced a couple for their roles in the plot, which has left up to five of the lethal guns on the streets.

Ringleader Alexander Mullings secretly masterminded the plot from the prison in south-west London between January and June last year.

The 23-year-old, who is originally from Islington, was serving a sentence for a series of robberies at the time he used a mobile phone to arrange the importation.

The judge told him: “It is a scandal that the security at Wandsworth was so wholly inadequate that you were able to do so.”

He said later: “I am extremely concerned that Mullings was able to commit these extremely grave offences from his prison cell at Wandsworth Prison … having been found under the law as it then was to be dangerous.

“It frankly beggars belief that someone could so easily and quickly obtain mobile phones and then conduct such a criminal enterprise whilst in prison.

“Wandsworth prison on the face of the evidence have blatantly failed in their duty.

“This could only be the result of either inadequate security, incompetence or worse dishonest members of staff. I make no judgement on this.

“Clearly an inquiry is called for in order to assure the public that that prison is effective in protecting the public from dangerous criminals such as Mr Mullings.”

Three of the firearms were seized by police last year but five more packages are known to have slipped in and remain unrecovered.

Judge Farrell said the “inevitable inference” was that the outstanding parcels contained similar items to those intercepted.

He said: “It would follow that it’s right that at large in the public domain are highly lethal, highly dangerous weapons, possibly with ammunition, for one purpose – that is to kill or maim.”

Mullings, 23, was jailed for life with a minimum term of 10 years after he was convicted of conspiring to possess firearms with intent to endanger life following a trial last month.

His girlfriend Emily Ciantar, 20, who he used as a courier, was jailed for 12 years and four months after being found guilty of the same charge.

Sentencing them at Luton Crown Court, the judge said: “Each of you played a part in what was a well organised and precisely executed criminal enterprise to import machine pistols and the ammunition for them.

“The gravity of this level of gun crime cannot be underestimated. Guns kill and maim, terrorise and intimidate.

“In the hands of drug dealers, robbers or worse they are highly dangerous. It is not exaggerating to say that people may well be killed or seriously injured as a result of what you did.”

Spencer Inglis, who took delivery of one of the guns, was jailed for seven-and-a-half years for possessing a prohibited weapon.

The first gun was delivered to the Mitcham address of Inglis, 24, on April 12.

Ciantar arrived by minicab and handed over the Skorpion and 74 rounds of ammunition just hours before police, who had been watching the house, raided it.

The second machine gun was recovered on May 15 after it was intercepted in the post.

The package also contained two empty magazine clips and 100 rounds of ammunition.

Undeterred by the setback, Mullings switched to a new address in Islington but police intercepted a third package containing a Skorpion, three magazine clips but no ammunition on June 19 last year at an international postal hub in Coventry.

All the guns were deactivated weapons that the supplier had reactivated. The plotters are thought to have paid £2,000 to £3,000 for the guns, but they would have had a street value much higher.

Skorpion submachine guns are semi automatic, rapid fire and high powered weapons. They are small and easy to conceal for a criminal.

Ciantar, of Holloway in north London, wept throughout the hearing.

The judge said he believed she would not have found herself in the dock if it were not for her relationship with Mullings.

He added: “Her role was a key role. He (Mullings) needed somebody on the outside to do his bidding.”

The judge said Inglis was sentenced on the basis that he was not part of the conspiracy.

Detective Chief Inspector Rebecca Reeves said: “These Skorpion sub-machine guns are some of the most dangerous weapons I have ever seen reach the hands of UK criminals.

“They are relatively small and easy to conceal, but they can fire semi-automatic rounds. What’s more, the group had managed to find a supplier who was willing to sell them high-quality ammunition.

“Since the defendants were arrested, we have continued to investigate, in order to track down any remaining weapons that may have been brought into the country in the same way.

“Consequently, a number of additional arrests have been made and further firearms recovered as a direct result of inquiries stemming from Mullings and his network. These investigations remain ongoing.

“We have also recovered thousands of rounds of ammunition. I have no doubt this has prevented shootings from taking place.”

Scotland Yard said gun crime “remains at a low level” in London.

Published: Thursday 26th February 2015 by The News Editor

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