A 42-year-old British arms dealer who is accused of smuggling 80,000 guns and 32 million rounds of ammunition worth £840,000 from China to Nigeria has dismissed the allegations as ‘ludicrous’.
Gary Hyde, of Newton on Derwent, East Yorkshire, allegedly smuggled 40,000 AK47 assault rifles, 30,000 other rifles, 10,000 9mm pistols and the ammunition across the world in 2007.
The York-based businessman – a former director of UK companies York Guns and Jago Ltd – is said to have organised the trade and transportation of the weapons in contravention of UK arms laws.
But this is the second time Hyde has faced the accusations and he continues to refute the charges, with his barrister telling Southwark Crown Court that the allegations are ‘completely ridiculous’.
‘The idea Mr Hyde sat down and made a decision to breach this law willy-nilly, knowing full well the consequences, is, we suggest, ludicrous’, Stephen Solley QC, defending, told the court.
‘Mr Hyde is a legitimate businessman, and to suggest he had a cavalier, couldn’t care less approach and is going to go ahead regardless we suggest that was simply not the picture.
‘The idea you could be sure this man put two fingers up to the criminal law knowingly is completely ridiculous.’
However, prosecutors say Hyde failed to obtain the correct export licence, and a record of flights in 2006 and 2007 to China when the sales allegedly happened has been put before the jury.
But Mr Solley said prosecutors had not given a complete picture of Hyde’s travel, missing out several overseas trips not seen as relevant but gave a fuller picture of his working life.
Some people think there is a glamour to international travel,’ he told the court.
‘But the glamour wears off pretty quickly. What a struggle it must have been to keep up all the various components of his life, his English business, and his international business.’
Mr Solley told the court Hyde was working for one of the largest arms-dealing firms in the north east of England, juggling international deals, a domestic business, and his family life.
He also pointed to 38 other potential deals with China which were being negotiated at the time the alleged crimes took place.
Hyde, who has been trading in arms and dealing regularly with government departments for 20 years, gave a prepared statement protesting his innocence when brought in for questioning.
‘I do not believe that I engaged in any activity in the UK which I understood to require a licence but where instead I decided to ignore that obligation,’ he said. ‘Apart from a couple of administration errors, I have always been compliant.’
Mr Solley also warned the jury not to think badly of Hyde because of his profession.
‘There’s nothing wrong with arms dealing’, he said. ‘This was nation state to nation state sale and purchase, between the government of China and the government of Nigeria.
It was not to some ramshackle gang somewhere – it was government to government arms sales.’
Hyde has pleaded not guilty to smuggling the 80,000 guns and 32million rounds of ammunition.
A previous trial into the charges against Hyde was abandoned, the jury was told.
Hyde denied two counts of becoming knowingly concerned in the movement of controlled goods between March 2006, and December 2007. He also denied one count of concealing criminal property between March 2006, and December 2008.