Emsworth MOD police officer awaits verdict over handling stolen goods

A Ministry of Defence police officer from Emsworth accused of handling stolen rifles allegedly taken from the ministry has been cleared of five charges.

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But the jury at Winchester Crown Court is still deliberating a further count of the same charge against Roger Smith, 61, of Bullfinch Road.

He was on trial alongside former Army captain Peter Laidler, of Anson Close, Marcham, Abingdon, Oxfordshire and two other defendants.

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The 71-year-old has also been found not guilty of five counts of theft but the jury is still deliberating on a further six counts of theft against him. He was initially charged with two more counts of theft and another of handling stolen goods but Judge Richard Parkes QC directed a not guilty verdict on those during the trial.

Laidler, who is also a former police officer, is alleged to have stolen rifles worth tens of thousands of pounds.

Matthew Jewell QC, prosecuting, said that Laidler had worked as the armourer for the Small Arms School Collection (SASC) at Warminster where the majority of the weapons were allegedly stolen.

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

A third defendant, Stuart Pemberton, 52, of Temple, Corsley, Warminster, Wiltshire, was found not guilty of one count of handling stolen goods.

A fourth defendant, Adrian Bull, 64, of High Street, Devizes, Wiltshire, was earlier acquitted of three counts of handling stolen goods after the judge said there was no case to answer.

The defendants deny all the charges. The jury was sent home to continue its deliberations on Thursday.