Hampshire officer found guilty after snipers and automatic rifles stolen from MoD collection

The 61-year-old will be sentenced next week
The 61-year-old will be sentenced next week
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AN MoD police officer from Hampshire has been found guilty in connection with the theft of snipers and automatic rifles.

Roger Smith, 61 from Emsworth, was a co-defendant standing alongside former police officer Peter Laidler at Winchester Crown Court.

Smith was found guilty of one count of handling stolen goods in relation to an SA80.

Laidler, 72 from Marcham, Abingdon, Oxfordshire, was convicted of four counts of theft, after stealing an SA80 – the Army's standard issue automatic rifle – and components from the weapon as well as two Accuracy International L96 sniper rifles between 1998 and 2016.

Matthew Jewell QC, prosecuting, told the trial that the two defendants had known each other for ‘many years’ and both had a ‘keen interest in firearms’.

He said Laidler had worked as the armourer for the Small Arms School Collection (SASC) at Warminster, Wiltshire, where the weapons were stolen from.

The SASC is an MoD collection showing the development of small weapons from the 16th century to the present day.

Mr Jewell said: ‘Mr Laidler stole weapons and parts of weapons belonging to the Army during his time working at the Small Arms School Collection.

‘He didn't have permission to take any of those parts or weapons or treat them as his own but that is precisely what he did, in short form he stole them.’

Smith will be sentenced on September 20 while Laidler will be sentenced at the conclusion of a further trial.