Two brothers jailed for selling illegal firearms to criminals
PUBLISHED: 16:30 23 January 2020 | UPDATED: 18:13 23 January 2020
Two brothers who ran a "professional enterprise" selling illegal firearms to criminals have been jailed for a combined total of 24 years.
Kevin Lee, 30, and Guzzy Lee, 34, were involved in selling working "lethal weapons" and used Whatsapp to arrange transaction meetings, Ipswich Crown Court heard today.
On December 17, 2018, an Audi A4 was stopped by officers from West Mercia Police on the M6 motorway west of Walsall and the driver, Adam Holden, was found to be in possession of a sawn-off .410 shotgun and 14 cartridges of ammunition.
Holden was arrested and phone records revealed Kevin Lee, of St Mary's Terrace, Pulham St Mary, near Diss, had been in touch with Holden the previous day and had made arrangements for the sale of the gun and the ammunition.
Guzzy Lee, of Butlers Gardens, Wymondham, travelled to the Midlands on December 17 to deliver the weapon and call records showed he had been in contact with Holden during the day.
Cell site analysis showed Guzzy Lee and Holden to be at the meeting point at 3.40pm. Holden,26, of Enfield Street, Wigan, was arrested 50 minutes later and subsequently jailed for five years at Shrewsbury Crown Court in May last year.
On his return to Norfolk, Guzzy Lee stopped for fuel on the A14 and was seen on CCTV with a woman and two children in the car.
William Carter, prosecuting, said: "It was clear he was travelling in that way for the purposes of cover."
On February 2 last year, police searched a self-storage container just off the A140, near Eye, which was rented in Kevin Lee's name.
Officers discovered a .410 shotgun with five cartridges of ammunition for that gun along with 17 other cartridges of 12 and 20 gauge ammunition.
A mobile phone was seized and contained a short clip of Kevin Lee demonstrating how to use the gun, which had been sent via Whatsapp.
On February 21, 2019, Guzzy Lee was seen on the driveway of his home speaking with a man who then left in a Ford Transit van.
A different Citroen van was later stopped on the A14 near Huntingdon and Martin Hallissey was arrested.
In the vehicle, officers found a shotgun covered by a blanket and a black handgun, which had been altered into a .410 shot pistol. Hallissey, 30, of Moat Road, Oldbury. was jailed for five years at Cambridge Crown Court in January.
Mr Carter said: "There is no legitimate reason for these weapons, their only use being for the commission of crime and, indeed, serious crime.
"It smacks of a professional, planned exercise."
Guzzy Lee previously pleaded guilty to two counts of selling or transferring prohibited firearms and selling and transferring a shotgun to another.
Kevin Lee also previously admiitted charges of selling or transferring prohibited firearms and possession of a firearm without a certificate.
Kevin Lee also pleaded guilty to a charge of aggravated vehicle taking following an incident in Ipswich on January 22 when a stolen Vauxhall Astra was chased by police along Shakespeare Road.
The car, driven by Kevin Lee, was involved in a collision with a police car as it attempted to turn.
Kevin Lee was also charged with possessing a prohibited weapon after police conducted a search his van on May 16 last year and a can of Pava spray was discovered.
The court heard Kevin Lee had 12 previous convictions for 19 offences and Guzzy Lee had 10 previous convictions for 19 offences.
Judge David Pugh said: "I am satisfied, having heard and read about this case, that the two of you were involved in a professional exercise."
Judge Pugh sentenced Guzzy Lee to a total of 13 years and six months and Kevin Lee was jailed for a total of 10 years and six months.
Detective Inspector James Panter, from the Eastern Region Special Operations Unit (ERSOU), said: "The brothers worked together to supply dangerous and illegal firearms to other criminals, on one occasion converting a signal pistol into a viable, working handgun.
"Weapons like the ones seized have the potential to cause serious and deadly harm to communities, so we're really pleased to have been able to disrupt the Lee brothers and stem the supply.
"The sentences handed out to all four men also show how seriously this type of criminality is taken by both the police and the justice system. We will continue treating gun crime as a priority, as part of our mission to tackle serious and organised crime across the eastern region."