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Four men sentenced to prison following firearms investigation

Following a joint investigation by the Regional Organised Crime Unit (ROCU), Warwickshire Police and West Mercia Police, four men have been sentenced to nearly 75 years in prison for importing firearms into the country.

Sean Edwards

Lee Cullen, 46, of The Avenue, Stratford-upon-Avon, Laurence McCarthy, 44, of Tiddington Close, Birmingham, Paul Frith, 43, of School Lane, Shard End, Birmingham and Sean Edwards, 36, of Roshven Road, Birmingham, all appeared at Birmingham Crown Court on Friday (29 June).

On 23 June 2017, a Vauxhall Insignia being driven by Paul Frith was stopped by officers in Birmingham. Concealed in the boot were two Glock handguns and 25 rounds of live ammunition. Cullen and Edwards were passengers in the vehicle, and all three were arrested.

Paul Frith

A subsequent investigation provided evidence that McCarthy had imported the weapons from France, and on 12 March 2017 he had ordered eight blank firing Glock replica pistols, which would later be converted in order to fire live ammunition. He was arrested on 6 September 2017 in connection with the investigation.

All four were charged with conspiracy to supply prohibited firearms and ammunition. On  23 March 2018 McCarthy was found guilty following a three week trial. The other three men had pleaded guilty during the final week of the trial to the same offences.

Laurence McCarthy

 At Friday's court appearance, the following sentences were issued:

  • Lee Cullen  - 21 years, eight months
  • Laurence McCarthy - 20 years 
  • Paul Frith - 19 years
  • Sean Edwards - 14 years

Following the sentencing, Detective Inspector Gough from the West Midlands Regional and Organised Crime Unit, said: "We are pleased with this result which is the culmination of many months of investigation, working with colleagues across our region to tackle the problem of serious organised crime.

Lee Cullen

"These men will now face substantial prison sentences for their involvement in these offences, and thanks to the diligence of officers and other investigating staff, we have been able to reduce the availability of weapons on our streets.

"I hope that this successful prosecution will encourage others who may have information regarding organised crime to come forward, and will send the message to those considering committing these offences that we will robustly investigate them and will ensure they are brought to justice."

Issued: 5.30pm, Tuesday 3 July, HCB, Corporate Communications

Published 03/07/18