YORK arms dealer Gary Hyde’s conviction for helping to ship weaponry from China to Nigeria sends out a warning to other dealers across the UK, a lawyer has said.

Gary Hyde, 43, of Mask Lane, Newton-on-Derwent, is due to be sentenced tomorrow for breaching UK trade controls with the shipment of tens of thousands of guns and 32 million rounds of ammunition.

Elspeth Pringle, a Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) lawyer who specialises in arms prosecutions, has spoken of the significance of his conviction at Southwark Crown Court in October, which was seen as a coup for the CPS and also Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs.

The Observer newspaper has reported Hyde protested on his arrest that he did not believe he had engaged in any activity in the UK which required a licence.

It said that following a search of his business premises and home, investigators from HM Revenue & Customs found emails on his computer confirming his role in the deal.

Mobile phone records also proved he was in the UK when the shipment arrangements were made, meaning he required a UK control licence, even though the guns never came into this country.

Ms Pringle said UK legislation controlled the transfer of arms and military goods from one country to another, and Hyde failed to apply for a licence from the UK licensing authority.

“In this instance it didn’t matter that the arms were not leaving the UK,” she said. “The number of arms dealers in the UK is quite small. They all know each other.

“This conviction sends out a signal that if you don’t have the correct paperwork and you ship directly from the UK, or from one country to another, you will be prosecuted.”

She said Hyde’s was one of the largest cases she had ever come across, in relation to the quantity of arms and ammunition.

“It was unusual, too, in that it was a single deal. Other cases have often involved multiple deals to multiple customers or clients.”