Salih is 60 years old. He
is Turkish Cypriot, has lived in the UK for 40 years.
He is married to Helen and has two grown up children.
He was a market trader for 28 years until he took over his
deceased father-in-law’s gun shop in London’s East End.
Guner had no experience of the gun trade.
He has never been in trouble with the law before.
has been charged with:
(1) possession of a firearm with intent to endanger life (an old Astro-cub belonging to his late father-in-law);
(2) possession of prohibited CS gas batons; (German pre-war
purchased by Guner in a market)
(3) possession of prohibited ammunition;
(4) possession of ammunition without a certificate (small amounts
of bullets, again from late father-in-law’s old stock) – total of 4
was sentenced to 7 years for no. (1) above, reduced to 3 years on
appeal, to run consecutively. For the remainder of the
ammunition/CS charges he was given various sentences running concurrently,
the maximum of which was 5 years. He was given 7 and a half years for
each of the conspiracy charges, again each running consecutively.
He is now serving 18 years reduced from the original 22 year sentence.
conspiracy charges relate to selling replica guns with intent to convert
to firing weapons. Conversion
tools were found in first co-defendants’ 7 lock-ups. No such equipment
was ever found in Guner’s shop or home and he was acquitted from the
charge of conversion, but charged with knowing about it and possibly
re-selling the converted guns. During surveillance by police one only of
first co-conspirators was seen entering 7 times and carrying something
out twice. Another
gun shop also under surveillance was seen to supply replica guns in
bulk, but on challenge by police were given two days to get their
receipts and paperwork in order. Guner was not.
They stated they became suspicious and ceased to supply
co-defendants in August, but they were seen in and out at least 3 times
after that and were arrested outside the gun shop the following Feb.
That gun shop was never searched.
the second co-defendants, the father was a weapons collector.
Police inferred that the son brought a bag to Guner’s
shop containing the Astro-cub for Guner to re-sell.
The conspiracy aspect relates to three bullets, one found in
possession of first set of co-defendants, the second found in Guner’s
possession and a third bullet found with second co-defendants.
Prosecution stated 15-20% similarity between the three bullets.
Defence stated no real similarity.
The bullet relating to first co-defendants was destroyed by
trial began in 2004. The
first co-defendants pleaded guilty.
Prosecution wanted Guner to stand alone. Shortly afterwards Guner had a massive heart and two cardiac
arrests, had a stent put in and the trial resumed in 2005, but Guner
then became too ill to carry on and the trial did not continue until
2006 by which time the second two co-defendants had been identified by
police using Guner as the link between them.
Guner’s defence counsel was then too busy to carry on and
appointed another barrister in her place. Summing up was done by the
judge in Guner’s absence, despite his request that he be present
because the judge had considerable pressure from the jury, at least
three of whom needed to leave by specific dates.
Neither Guner nor his wife has ever seen the papers on the
summing up by the judge.
gun charges – Guner was collecting together all old weapons and
ammunition on 1st April 2003 to hand these in on first day of
amnesty when police arrested him. Why
was he not given the opportunity to do so?
first co-defendants who actually said they were not connected in any way
with Guner and yet they were ignored. Why?
pleaded innocent throughout and ended up with a much longer sentence
than those who had a string of prior convictions but had pleaded guilty.
second set of co-defendants – the son got 7 years for conspiracy with
Guner but the timescale does not match. Conspiracy period stated as 1st
April to 30th June but Guner was arrested on 1st
April and only came out of prison on 13th June. The son was
in America until 28th June and was arrested on 30th
June. Surely the whole conspiracy couldn’t have taken place in two
has never been any DNA match with Guner to support the charges.
indecent haste of the jury to convict on such flimsy evidence has
clearly resulted in an unjust verdict.
were the police so lenient with the other gun shop?
cannot help wondering whether the fact that Guner is a Turkish Moslem
has contributed both to the charges in the face of lack of corroborative
evidence and the jury’s view of the case during a period of high risk
Sadly, Guner is in extremely poor health and is unlikely to survive this prison sentence. It is even harder to survive in prison knowing that you are innocent.