Two men have been jailed for firearms offences following an investigation by specialist officers.
Harvey Gillett, 23 , of Bush Road, Southwark, and Dean Batchelor, 28, of Robertson Street, Southwark, were sentenced at Kingston Crown Court on Wednesday, 30 September.
Both men pleaded guilty at the same court on Friday, 21 February.
Batchelor, who pleaded guilty to the sale or transfer of a firearm to Gillett and the importation of two firearms and pepper gas ammunition, was sentenced to eight years and nine months’ imprisonment.
Gillett, who pleaded guilty to possession of a firearm when prohibited for five years and driving a motor vehicle taken without the owner’s consent, was sentenced to five years and 10 months’ imprisonment.
The court heard that on 5 May 2019, Gillett was seen to travel on a high-powered stolen motorbike on false plates to an address on Caldwell Street, SW8. The address is linked to Batchelor.
After about 20 minutes, Gillett left the property and returned to his home address on Bush Road, SE8, where he was seen by officers to go to an electrical cupboard. He was wearing a distinctive rucksack and gloves.
When he left the electrical cupboard, he no longer had the rucksack or gloves. He was subsequently detained and arrested by armed officers, who recovered a partially converted firearm from the electrical cupboard.
Gillett was taken to a south London police station. He was subsequently charged on 13 May 2019.
The court heard that Gillett has a previous conviction for possession of a firearm.
When Gillett was arrested he was found to be in possession of a ‘burner phone’ with a contact number for ‘Aggro,’ who officers later established was Batchelor. Enquiries revealed there had been a number of phone calls between the pair, especially on the evening of 5 May 2019 – shortly before and after Gillett’s trip to see Batchelor.
On 16 May 2019, two forward venting imitation revolvers and 20 rounds of pepper gas ammunition were intercepted by Border Force officers destined for Batchelor’s home address on Robertson Street, SW8.
Officers from the Met’s Specialist Crime Command carried out a number of enquiries, which proved that Batchelor had ordered and paid for the weapons.
On 18 June 2019, Batchelor travelled to East Sussex where he was observed by officers to enter a replica weapons store. He purchased two replica imitation colt firearms and a quantity of blank rounds of ammunition.
He was immediately detained and arrested when he left the store. He made several significant comments during his arrest, including ‘how are they illegal ordered off the internet,’ showing he had knowledge of the items seized by Border Force.
He was taken to a west London police station and was subsequently charged the next day.
Detectives spoke to the owner of the store who confirmed that Batchelor had previously attended the store on 2 May 2019, to collect three replica firearms, which he had purchased the day before over the telephone – one of which was the same model as that seized from Gillett.
Detective Inspector Tom Williams, from Specialist Crime, said: “This investigation led to several lethal weapons and ammunition being taken off the streets of London. If they had not been seized, I have no doubt that they would have gone on to cause at the very least serious harm, if not death.
“These convictions are a result of extremely hard work by the team, who worked tirelessly to secure evidence against Gillett and Batchelor. In the end, the evidence was so strong against them that they had no choice but to plead guilty.
“Tackling violent crime is the Met’s top priority and I want the public to be reassured that a great deal of work is taking place to identify and pursue offenders, help bring perpetrators to justice and take weapons off the streets.
“Firearms have absolutely no place on our streets and every time one is removed by us, it makes London a safer place for all.”