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Essex: Two women jailed for their role in gun-running gang

File picture of guns taken out of circulation by the Metropolitan Police.

File picture of guns taken out of circulation by the Metropolitan Police.

Two women from Harwich are among a gang of seven jailed for running a criminal network supplying guns and ammunition.

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Caroline Hunter-Mann-Purdy, 64, of Harwich Road, HarwichCaroline Hunter-Mann-Purdy, 64, of Harwich Road, Harwich

Ringleaders Paul Alexander and Carl Gordon met at HMP Swaleside, Kent, where both were serving life sentences.

Using illegally-held mobile phones smuggled into the prison, Alexander’s knowledge of firearms and Gordon’s links to organised crime, the pair got round the law by arranging people on the outside to legally buy obsolete weapons and then converting them to live guns, making them illegal.

Despite ammunition no longer being made for the weapons Alexander, a former Harwich resident, knew how to produce it and shared his knowledge with members of the gang.

Yesterday (Friday June 6), Alexander, 58, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply firearms with intent to endanger life. He was sentenced to 16 years, to be served after his current prison sentence ends next year.

Lullabell Purdy, 26, of Harwich Road, HarwichLullabell Purdy, 26, of Harwich Road, Harwich

His wife Caroline Hunter-Mann-Purdy, 64, of Harwich Road, near Harwich admitted conspiracy to supply firearms and was sentenced to seven years, while his step-daughter Lullabell Purdy, 26, also of Harwich Road, near Harwich, pleaded guilty to money laundering offences and was sentenced to 300 hours of community service.

Two other gang members admitted conspiracy charges, while a further two were convicted after a trial of conspiracy to supply firearms and money laundering charges.

In total the seven received more than 54 years in prison after the hearing at Woolwich Crown Court.

Gordon, 27, of HMP Belmarsh, is due to be sentenced at a later date.

Paul Alexander, 58, of HMP BelmarshPaul Alexander, 58, of HMP Belmarsh

The convictions came after a Metropolitan Police investigation, Operation Propus, was launched in 2011 when intelligence came to light of the mobile phones.

Det Insp Richard Mills, from the Met Police’s Special Intelligence Section, said: “During the period that Gordon and Alexander met in prison, they effectively became business partners, dealing in deadly weapons and ammunition.

“The firearms and ammunition they converted had the potential to cause great harm on our streets.

“This was a complex investigation by the Met’s Special Intelligence Section, which is committed to targeting criminal networks and bringing a successful prosecution. I would like to pay tribute to the detectives who have worked tirelessly to see this case to its successful conclusion.”

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