6 July 2018
A man who tried to smuggle a gun and ammunition into the UK hidden in the battery compartment of his van has been jailed for five years after an investigation by the National Crime Agency.
Officers stopped a van being driven by Polish national Rafal Habiak, 34, on the evening of 3 June 2018 at Dover Eastern Docks in Kent. He told officers he was driving to his home address in Grimsby.
The blue Mercedes Vaneo was examined by Border Force officers who found a handgun hidden in box under the battery compartment alongside two packets of 9mm blank cartridges which contained ‘tear-gas’.
Habiak denied all knowledge of the hidden ammunition and firearm – which was later found to be a converted Turkish-made Zoraki 914 pistol. Habiak was charged with two firearms offences and remanded into custody.
Initially Habiak told officers a friend asked him to take the van to Germany to be repaired. He met a man in a town that he could “not recall” at 6am on 3 June. This man ‘fixed’ the car whilst he slept for a few hours. Habiak then drove back to the UK via Calais.
Habiak initially entered a not guilty plea, but then on 3 July 2018 changed his plea to ‘guilty’ for both charges.
Jailing Habiak for five years, HHJ James, presiding at Canterbury Crown Court, said:
“You were seeking to import this potentially deadly weapon. This firearm could have no lawful purpose.”
Debbie Cook, Senior Investigating Officer from the NCA, said:
“As the judge said in his summing up, the firearm that Habiak tried to bring into the UK had ‘no lawful’ purpose.
“We work closely with our Border Force colleagues to prevent deadly weapons such as these entering the UK and into the hands of violent criminals.
“This gun had been converted to fire live bullets, and a potential tragic outcome of its use on the streets of the UK has been prevented.”
Paul Morgan, Director of Border Force South East and Europe, said:
“This was an excellent detection that demonstrates the work Border Force officers do at the border to counter the threat of firearms like this being smuggled into the UK. Last year our work led to the seizure of more than 10,000 offensive weapons.”