THE ‘lynchpin’ in the theft ring was obsessed with collecting military items and enjoyed the status of being a collector, the court heard.
Andrew Stevens ran Cracking Day Limited, an airsoft gaming company that offered battles between teams using BB rifles and pistols.
But the 41-year-old’s interest turned from collecting military kit to cash when he became an ‘international trader’ selling £28,500 worth of kit to a contact in Japan.
Nina Tavakoli, for Stevens, told Portsmouth Crown Court the dad-of-two has a type of obsessive compulsive disorder and suffers from a longstanding major depression.
‘He in essence was blinded by his obsession and fascination with collecting military items,’ she said.
‘He hid this obsession from his wife.
‘It began in 2000 when he began collecting these items.
‘He collected them from eBay, War and Peace shows.
‘He said he became a bit of a personality in the collectors’ world.
‘It seems he did not recognise the criminal nature of what he was doing.’
She added: ‘He was blinded by the status and reputation in the field.’
Mitigating, she said a prison sentence would affect him badly and he had been seeking help for his ‘shopaholic’ equivalent behaviour.
He has now started collecting Star Wars memorabilia instead of military equipment, she added.