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Men from Erith and Sidcup jailed for possession of gun

PUBLISHED: 07:09 11 March 2020

Philpott, left, and Saunders and the gun. Picture: Met Police

Philpott, left, and Saunders and the gun. Picture: Met Police

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Two men who were spotted exchanging a gun in a car park have been jailed.

Dean Philpott, 34, of Hemsted Road, Erith, and Paul Saunders, 63, of Ramillies Road, Sidcup, were each sentenced to five years' imprisonment at Woolwich Crown Court on Monday, March 9.

Following a trial at the same court, Philpott was found guilty of possession of a prohibited firearm and Saunders was found guilty of possession of a prohibited firearm and the transfer of a prohibited firearm. Saunders pleaded guilty to possession of a Class B drug at an earlier hearing.

The court was told that around 5pm on Tuesday, November 20, 2018 - as part of a proactive policing operation by Specialist Crime officers - Philpott was observed by officers leaving his home and walking to Birling Road, 300 yards away. He was not holding any items.

Officers saw Philpott get into the front passenger seat of a black Renault Megane driven by Saunders, which was parked in Birling Road. He stayed in the car for approximately 35 seconds before walking into a nearby convenience store. The black Renault Megane drove away and was immediately stopped around the corner by covert Specialist Crime officers, with the assistance of firearms officers.

Saunders was detained by officers and was found to be in possession of amphetamine.

He was arrested on suspicion of firearms and drugs offences and was subsequently bailed pending further enquiries.

Philpott was stopped by officers when he left the shop having just bought a pair of rubber gloves.

Officers searched Philpott and found what appeared to be a firearm placed in several freezer bags, inside tightly wrapped black insulation tape, placed inside a torn plastic bag in his right hand tracksuit pocket.

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He was arrested on suspicion of firearms offences and was taken to a south London police station.

In a prepared statement, Philpott accepted possession of the handgun claiming it was an inoperative antique. He said he wanted it as an ornament.

However, the revolver was classified was a weapon capable of firing bullets. Philpott was charged the next day.

Following further enquiries, including forensics and phone analysis, Saunders was charged on May 2, 2019.

Saunders' DNA was found on the freezer bags and plastic bag the gun was wrapped in. Phone analysis also showed that Saunders had Googled a number of relevant things, including 'loophole that allows criminals to own working antique guns', 'does ammunition expire', and 'how long do guns and bullets last'.

Phone analysis also proved that there had been telephone contact between the defendants leading up to the meeting.

In a prepared statement, Saunders denied any involvement in supplying a firearm to Philpott and then answered no comment to all the questions put to him. When he was charged with the above offences, Saunders replied: 'This is ridiculous.'

Following the case, Det Con Marlon Guthrie, the investigating officer, said: 'I am pleased that the jury saw through the defendants' lies and chose to convict them due to the overwhelming evidence we gathered against them.

'The Met is committed to taking people like Philpott and Saunders, and the firearm they had, off the streets of London.'

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