19 February 2016
A 65-year-old man from Norfolk has been jailed
after being found guilty of committing a number of firearms
transaction offences. This follows an investigation into the
discovery of a largest cache of weapons ever found in the United
Kingdom at a property in Wyverstone, near Stowmarket.
Anthony Buckland, of Mill Road, Stoke Holy
Cross, near Norwich, was convicted on Friday 18 December of the
following twenty offences: Nine counts of selling/transferring a
prohibited weapon; One count of selling/transferring a prohibited
weapon (pistol); Nine counts of fraud by false representation; and
one count of possession of a prohibited weapon (disguised
At Norwich Crown Court today, Friday 19
February, Buckland was sentenced to 6 years’ imprisonment.
Buckland was charged on 19
November 2014 following the investigation into the discovery of a
significant quantity of weapons at an address in Potash Road,
Wyverstone, on 13 April 2014, which became Operation
This investigation began after
officers initially attended the address in Potash Road to
investigate an allegation of assault, subsequently arresting
49-year-old James Arnold, of Potash Road, Wyverstone, in connection
with this allegation.
Police carried out a search at the property
which ultimately uncovered a hidden room containing a huge number
of weapons. The search of the house, outbuildings and eight acres
of land lasted for 27 days and in total 463 firearms were
discovered, along with explosives including a light anti-tank
weapon and over 1000m of detonation cord.
James Arnold was initially charged with two
counts of assault and four counts of possession of a prohibited
weapon, but he died whilst on remand in prison before he was able
to stand trial in respect of these accusations and the Crown
Prosecution Service discontinued the case against him.
Enquires into the origin of the firearms found
at Arnold’s home led detectives to establish that five of them were
still registered as being owned by Anthony Buckland, who was a
registered firearms dealer from Norfolk.
The scale of what was discovered in Wyverstone was quite extraordinary and ultimately turned out to be the largest cache of weapons held by an individual ever found in the United Kingdom.
Detective Superintendent Steve Mattin
Buckland was arrested by
police at his home in Stoke Holy Cross on 16 July 2014 and this
address, along with his attached business premises, were searched.
A number of firearms were seized along with his firearms
Further examination of the
registers found that a number of sales had been made to a JJ
Hambrose. Police enquires to establish who JJ Hambrose was
concluded that he did not exist and had in fact been created by
Buckland to show disposal for firearms in his registers, to
disguise that he had been illegally supplying James Arnold and
others unknown with them.
The nine counts of fraud
relate to the fact that Buckland was also found to have converted
firearms banned from private ownership (such as automatic or
semi-automatic weapons), into firearms legally allowed to be owned
by people with the appropriate licence. He then misled the buyers
into believing they were purchasing firearms that they were legally
allowed to own.
Detective Superintendent Steve
Mattin, the Senior Investigating Officer overseeing Operation
Cannington, said: “The scale of what was discovered in Wyverstone
was quite extraordinary and ultimately turned out to be the largest
cache of weapons held by an individual ever found in the United
“This was a huge investigation
for Suffolk Constabulary and involved a thorough search of the
premises coordinated by specialist officers with the assistance of
a number of partner agencies. This process took almost a month to
complete and involved the deployment of considerable resources.
“Although we will never know
the full reasons how and why James Arnold built up this huge
arsenal of weapons, we were at least able to identify Anthony
Buckland as someone dealing in illegal firearms as part of this
“I am pleased with the sentence
handed down to Buckland today, which provides a positive outcome at
the conclusion of one of Suffolk Police’s biggest ever operations.
I hope it also serves as a warning to those involved in the illegal
supply of weapons that this is a highly dangerous practice and if
caught they face significant prison terms."