In the Media

Former US marine smuggled up to 80 guns for UK criminals, court told

PUBLISHED October 5, 2011

Steven Greenoe bought weapons from US gun shops and smuggled them into the UK, Liverpool crown court hears Guns smuggled into the UK on commercial flights by a former US marine captain were used to carry out crimes on the streets of Britain, including a fatal shooting, a court was told. Steven Greenoe, 37, bought weapons from American gun shops, broke them down to their component parts, and smuggled them into the UK in his luggage, Liverpool crown court heard on Wednesday. Two British men were also said to have been involved in the alleged conspiracy: Steven Cardwell, 31, and Neil Copplestone, 32, both from the north-west, who, the prosecution claims, sold the guns on to criminals. The court heard that Greenoe, who is awaiting sentence in the US, bought 81 firearms from gun shops in North Carolina, and that some of them were smuggled and used in serious criminal offences in the UK. The prosecution said most, if not all, the firearms purchased by him were intended for or are now in the hands of criminals in the UK. Security staff at Raleigh-Durham airport in North Carolina found a cache of 16 weapons in his luggage when he was stopped while in transit on 25 July 2010. Neil Flewitt QC, for the prosecution, said experts had proved that guns purchased by Greenoe were used in a fatal shooting, the details of which cannot be reported for legal reasons, as well as an attempted murder in Manchester and an attempted robbery in Liverpool. The trial also heard that undercover police officers in Liverpool bought three pistols linked to Greenoe for ?3,600 each. Greenoe had paid ?300 per gun in the US. The court heard that between December 2009 and his arrest last year more than ?67,000 had been paid into Greenoe's bank account, mostly in cash. Greenoe has indefinite leave to remain in the UK because his wife, Elizabeth, is a British citizen. When in the country they lived in Shrewsbury, Shropshire. US authorities were carrying out undercover surveillance of Greenoe and identified 15 separate dates on which 81 firearms were purchased by him or on his behalf. Officers witnessed him dumping the boxes that held the guns and test-fired rounds which come with each weapon. These rounds were forensically matched to firearms used by UK criminals. Flewitt said Greenoe was arrested as he was about to board a flight to New York, flying on to Manchester. "At the airport he checked in four bags," the prosecutor said. "However, when his luggage was searched the US authorities found a total of 16 firearms broken down into their component parts and wrapped separately in plastic bags, together with 32 pistol magazines." When officers searched Greenoe's home in Shropshire after his arrest in the US, they found a Glock pistol and two magazines stored in a canvas bag in a safe. Cartridges found at a shooting in Manchester matched guns bought by Greenoe in America, the jury was told. A gun used in the attempted robbery of a Liverpool taxi driver in March 2011 was matched to two guns bought by Greenoe in America. Cardwell, of Aintree, Merseyside, and Copplestone, of Ormskirk, Lancashire, both deny conspiracy to import, sell and possess prohibited firearms with intent to endanger life. The trial continues and is expected to last for up to six weeks. Gun crime Crime United States Helen Carter © 2011 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds