A DRUG dealer who had “an arsenal of firearms” hidden under the floorboards of a Huddersfield house has been jailed for 11 years.
A de-activated Israeli-made Uzi sub-machine gun and a converted Russian Baikal pistol with silencers were among the stash of weapons and ammunition which police discovered when they arrested 27-year-old Zahid Ali last September.
A court heard yesterday that following the raid, the three prohibited handguns which had been seized were analysed by the National Ballistic Intelligence Service and it was revealed that the Russian pistol had been used in a drive-by shooting in Manchester in 2006.
The victim had been shot in the leg with the Baikal pistol which had its markings deliberately obliterated and had been converted to fire bullets.
Prosecutor Stephen Wood told Bradford Crown Court: “The prosecution stress that there is no evidence whatsoever to link the defendant with this shooting, but it is indicative, submit the prosecution, of the way that lethal weapons pass with ease within the criminal underworld.”
In addition to the Uzi and the three handguns, officers seized a Taser stun gun, which could also discharge CS gas, and a quantity of ammunition including almost 30 hollow point bullets specially designed to expand on impact to maximise tissue damage, blood loss and shock.
The weapons, which were in a canvas bag, were discovered when police removed some of the floorboards in the bedroom of a house in Bay Hill Common Road, Birkby.
Mr Wood said the Uzi, which was wrapped in cling film and had an empty magazine with it, had been deactivated in 1995 and was incapable of firing any cartridge.
The court heard that Ali had not been charged with any offence in relation to the Uzi because it is not unlawful to possess such a de-activated weapon in a private place.
“The prosecution however draw it to your honour’s attention as there can, in reality, be no lawful reason for holding it”, Mr Wood told Judge Peter Benson.
“To anybody confronted with this weapon there would be no way they could know that it was deactivated and not a real and formidable weapon.”
The three prohibited handguns were all successfully test fired later by a firearms expert and the magazine from the Russian weapon still had three live cartridges in it when it was found by the police.
During the search officers also recovered two bullet-proof vests.
The court heard that officers had gone to the house looking for Ali in connection with other offences of which he was later acquitted, but when they searched the property they recovered heroin and crack cocaine worth in excess of £52,000 on the streets.
“The Crown’s case, reflected by the indictment, is that the defendant is a significant commercial supplier of Class A drugs”, said Mr Wood. “The prosecution submit that his involvement with these drugs, given the quantities recovered in this case, is entirely consistent with him being a wholesale distributor on a long-standing and significant basis.
“He also possessed an arsenal of firearms and ammunition. The only sensible conclusion that can be drawn from the facts, submit the prosecution, is that these weapons and ammunition were intended by the defendant for his own use with no other legitimate purpose other than the use or threat of serious violence.”
In the house police also found seven mobile phones, a number of SIM cards, five sets of digital scales, rolls of cling film, freezer bags, and just over £8,000 in cash, mainly £5 notes.
Mr Wood said the house was being used for the cutting up and dividing of Class A drugs into street deals and it was a case of drug dealing on a substantial scale for profit.
It emerged during the hearing that Ali, who has links to addresses in Moorfields Road, Fartown, and Victoria Mills, Shipley, was locked up for six years when he was only 15 for rape and indecent assault.
He also has a conviction for wounding on his record.
In December he pleaded guilty to a series of charges relating to the possession of prohibited firearms and ammunition together with offences of possessing Class drugs with intent to supply.
Barrister Peter Johnson, for Ali, said he came into possession of the weapons following the death of a good friend.
“There have been since his incarceration in September of last year threats made to his family through telephone communications,” said Mr Johnson.
“These I understand have been passed onto the police but they continue and of course they are a concern to Mr Ali.”
Jailing Ali, Judge Benson said the drugs offences on their own would have warranted a substantial sentence of imprisonment, but the presence of the weapons painted a very disturbing picture.
The judge described the Uzi as a “fearsome looking” weapon and said the use of one of the handguns in a drive-by shooting illustrated the potential use of such firearms.
“They had no possible use to anybody save for use in serious crime for the intimidation, wounding or murder of other people and the combination of their being found in connection with substantial quantities of Class A controlled drugs paints a very disturbing picture indeed.
“The gravity of gun crime cannot be exaggerated in particular in this area of West Yorkshire. Although I have no figures I have seen and witnessed the increase in the use of firearms to maim or kill when people fall out about the drug territory to which they claim control.”
The judge ordered the forfeiture and destruction of all the drugs, firearms and other items seized and also made a confiscation order of just over £8,000 against Ali.