Illegal gun was sold to undercover policeman

Echo: Guilty - Mark Billington Guilty - Mark Billington

AN UNDERCOVER policeman was able to buy an illegal revolver at the home of a champion clay pigeon shooter.

The officer went to Mark Billington’s home to buy weapons, including the Webley revolver, which can only be used by police officers or the Armed Forces.

The officer, called Darren, was also able to buy a semiautomatic shotgun and ammunition from Billington, who won a regional Olympic Skeet Championship last year.

Billington, 54, of Cheddar Avenue, Westcliff, could now be jailed after he admitted seven counts of firearms charges at Basildon Crown Court.

Judge David Owen-Jones told him: “You will receive credit for your plea of guilty, but make no mistake, an immediate sentence of imprisonment for a case as serious as this is inevitable.

“Whether there are exceptional circumstances for your sentence to be lessened to below the minimum is a matter for the sentencing judge.”

The court heard Billington sold a Winchester semi-automatic rifle, a Spanish Aya Aguiree and a Russian IJ12 to Darren on April 3, despite him not having a licence.

He also sold 48 .38 bullets and a Webley revolver to him on March 6, despite it being illegal to own this gun in Britain. Billington admitted possessing the revolver, which had a barrel less than 30cm long, and bullets without holding the correct certificate.

He was arrested at his shop, Alexandra Guns, in Market Place, off Alexandra Street, Southend, and appeared in court via videolink from Chelmsford Prison.

He will be held there until he is sentenced on July 16.

The court heard Billington was suffering from health problems and these would be put in a report to the judge.

Tom Kharran, mitigating, said: “He has fainted twice in prison and is suffering severe chest pains.”

Billington won the South East of England Olympic Skeet Championships in 2013, hosted by Southend Gun Club.

The championships have the potential to uncover talent to send to the Olympics.

Billington was a member of the Clay Pigeon Shooting Association, but a spokesman said he was not in the running to represent Great Britain in the Olympics.

The total cost of the guns was about £2,000, with an Essex dealer claiming the Winchester could fetch £1,200.

He said the Spanish Aya Aguiree would cost about £400 and the IJ12 about £75.

The dealer, who asked not to be named, said he did not know what the Webley was worth, but added: “Even though they are illegal, rumour has it you can buy a pistol in a London pub on a Friday night for £50.”

CLAY PIGEON SHOOTER FACES 7 CHARGES

THE charges faced by Mark Billington are:

*Possessing a Webley revolver without authority on March 6.

*Selling or transferring a Webley revolver without authority on March 6 ! Possessing 48 .38 bullets on March 6.

*Selling or transferring 48 .38 bullets to someone who had not produced a firearms certificate giving permission for him to buy them on March 6.

*Selling or transferring a Winchester semi-automatic to someone who had not produced a firearms certificate giving permission for him to buy it on April 3.

*Selling or transferring a Spanish Aya Aguiree to someone who had not produced a firearms certificate giving permission for him to buy it on April 3.

* Selling or transferring a Russian IJ12 to someone who hadn’t produced a firearm certificate giving permission for him to buy it.

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