Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Dealer Tread in Deadly Weapons; Rogue Karate Expert's Fall as He Turns to Selling Black Market Goods from Home

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Dealer Tread in Deadly Weapons; Rogue Karate Expert's Fall as He Turns to Selling Black Market Goods from Home

Article excerpt

Byline: ANDY HUGHES

BEHIND a suburban front door lurked a horrifying secret - this stash of deadly weapons destined for the streets.

Black market dealer Andrew Nichol smuggled an "appalling" armoury of martial art throwing stars, butterfly knives, knuckle dusters and even blowpipes into the region and sold them on for huge profits.

The 35-year-old ordered the potential killers from a contact in Pakistan and plotted to flog them on the black market.

But a UK Border Agency officer at Newcastle Airport discovered the final shipment of 2,700 weapons in boxes marked only as hand tools.

And when officers raided his home they discovered a haul of a further 1,500 similar weapons.

Investigators discovered Nichol, who ran the illicit trade under the cover of his legal importexport business, was director of a number of companies involved in the importation of weapons.

Now the karate expert - once ranked 17th in the UK - is beginning a three year, four month sentence after admitting importation at Newcastle Crown Court.

Judge Roger Thorn told him: "The discovery of this kind of offence is not easy and when found examples must be made.

"It goes without saying public alarm at items such as these has been gathering strength."

Judge Thorn said the public interest demanded a long custodial sentence.

He added: "I need to note the commercial nature of this enterprise, the dishonesty in which you knowingly imported these appalling items, and the alarming number of them."

Investigators recovered a total of 1,800 throwing stars, 600 butterfly knives, 720 dart firing blowpipes and the 1,005 knuckle dusters found during the random check of cargo arriving at Newcastle on an Emirates flight.

Nichol, of Greystoke Avenue, Jesmond Vale, Newcastle, claimed the majority would only have been sold at trade fairs in countries across Europe where they are not illegal.

But prosecutors believed the weapons would have been sold on the black market and later used by gangs throughout the UK.

After Nichol was jailed, UKBA chiefs said the weapons were "designed to inflict serious injury or even death". …

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