October 26 2014 Latest news:
Peter Walsh, Crime correspondent
Wednesday, July 2, 2014
An airman at RAF Marham who dubbed himself Dr Evil on a black market site where people could buy and sell guns has been jailed for six years after he admitted possessing and attempting to sell prohibited weapons.
John Yelland, 28, downloaded a variety of instruction manuals on how to build weapons, including sub-machine guns, before purchasing materials off eBay to construct them.
Yelland informed others on Black Market Reloaded, a site where illicit material, including firearms, can be traded, that he had 25 sub-machine guns for sale.
The site was part of the “dark web” on which Yelland also set up his own site Dr Evil’s UK Self Defence Shop.
On the site he offered for sale items such as tasers, batons, and pepper spray.
The operation was discovered after a parcel was intercepted at Tyneside Mail Centre in Gateshead.
The parcel contained a Taurus self-loading pistol together with three magazines, one of which contained a single dummy round. Inquiries showed the parcel was being returned to the defendant at RAF Marham after being sent to an address in County Durham where Yelland’s mother-in-law lived.
As a result of the discovery last June, police in Norfolk were contacted and Yelland was arrested at the West Norfolk airbase where he worked as a driver.
Officers also went to his home in Windmill Road, Upper Marham, where other items, including two laptops, stun gun and pepper spray, were found and his wife, Maimie, was arrested.
Officers from Norfolk Constabulary, assisted by the Royal Air Force Police, acting on intelligence received arrested Yelland on Friday, June 21, 2013.
After a search warrant was issued, a number of illegal firearms including firearms parts, stun guns, a deactivated Sten sub-machine gun and documents relating to the re-commissioning of firearms and movement of firearms within the UK and abroad were found at his home. His computers were also seized.
Assistance was provided by officers from the Metropolitan Police Service. Their expertise in computer analysis and experience carrying out large-scale, complex inquiries provided invaluable support, uncovering new evidence which supported the initial charges and led to further charges to which Yelland ultimately pleaded guilty in January.
During sentencing, the court heard that Yelland had been using mail services to post parts of the weapons to himself and had been manufacturing them in his own home.
Chief Supt Nick Davison, head of the County Policing Command, welcomed the sentencing.
He said: “Yelland thought nothing of making and storing the weapons and it is pleasing to see this man behind bars with a lengthy custodial sentence.”
Yelland appeared at Norwich Crown Court yesterday to be sentenced after previously admitting a string of firearms offences.
He had admitted two counts of attempting to sell prohibited weapons, possession of a prohibited weapon, attempting to possess a prohibited weapon, attempting to manufacture a prohibited weapon, two further counts of possessing prohibited weapons and one of possessing ammunition without a firearms certificate.
Jailing him for a total of six years, Judge Anthony Bate, said the defendant was a “trusted” individual who was highly regarded and utilised for “high profile visits” to the base.
He said: “You gave no indication to anyone else at that station to the dark side of your character... It’s plain in my view from the postings on the dark web that you appeared to relish dealing with like-minded individuals. The messages all had sinister undertones.”
Yelland was also made the subject of a serious crime prevention order, to help protect the public, which will last five years from the date of his release, and includes controls such as restricting internet access and the using of an encrypted communication device.
Appearing alongside Yelland was his wife, Maimie, who admitted transferring criminal property.
Sentencing her to six months imprisonment, Judge Bate said anyone who played a part in the movement of a firearm must expect a “robust” punishment to “deter others”.