Royal Marines reservist tried to sell stolen firearms to undercover officer

16 December 2016

A Royal Marines reservist who attempted to sell prohibited weapons and ammunition to an undercover officer in a covert NCA investigation has been sentenced to 14 and a half years in prison. He will remain on licence when he is released.

MartMartin Shannonin Shannon, aged 43 from Hythe in Southampton, admitted taking a C8 automatic assault rifle and a semi-automatic Sig sauer P226 handgun from RM Poole in Dorset, as well as thousands of rounds of ammunition and a number of high-explosive hand grenades. He had buried the guns, ammunition and explosives in hides dug in the New Forest.

In September 2016, he met an undercover officer who was posing as someone interested in buying them. They met in the Chieveley area of Newbury in Berkshire and, after some discussion, Shannon supplied the assault rifle, the handgun, 9mm and 5.56mm ammunition for both guns, a sawn-off shotgun, grenades and pyrotechnic munitions to the officer for a payment of £10,000.

Shannon then made his way home unaware he was being followed by surveillance officers from the NCA’s Armed Operations Unit. He stopped off at a supermarket in Winnall, Winchester and was arrested as he came out. 

During his interview, Shannon made a number of admissions, including the fact he had buried another shotgun. He was taken to the spot where he thought the weapon was but could not locate it. Officers conducted a more thorough search and the weapon – a bolt-action shotgun - was recovered.

When his house was searched, an additional 500 rounds of ammunition and a stick of plastic explosives were found.

On 2 September 2016, Shannon was charged with:

  • Transferring a prohibited weapon (the assault rifle, pistol and sawn-off shotgun)
  • Having an explosive substance (the hand grenades and plastic explosive)
  • Possession of ammunition (various calibres supplied to covert officer and found at home address)
  • Transferring prohibited ammunition (the CS gas shotgun cartridges)
  • Possession of a shotgun without a certificate (the bolt action shotgun)

Mark Webster, Director of Intelligence and Operations at the National Crime Agency said:

“This has been a complex investigation into an individual who had access to and possession of extremely dangerous weapons.

“We worked closely with the Ministry of Defence, who embedded staff into our operational team to provide invaluable information, advice and guidance about the weapons and also the training RM reservists receive. This allowed us to more accurately assess the threat Shannon posed and put in place plans to arrest him safely.

“We don’t believe Martin Shannon was working as part of an organised crime group, but I want to reassure the public that where people have access to firearms and intend to use them for criminal activities, we will work with our partners to ensure they are stopped and held accountable for their actions.”

Jo Jakymec, CPS Head of Organised Crime, said:

“Martin Shannon took hand grenades and ammunition from his army base in gross breach of trust. He sold some of the cache and two further automatic weapons to an undercover officer with no regard to what that individual may then do with them.

“A CPS prosecutor was involved in the case from the outset, providing advice to the NCA and ensuring the most appropriate charges were brought to reflect the serious nature of the offending, all of which Shannon ultimately pleaded guilty to.”

The C8 assault rifle is standard issue for armed forces around the world. The 5.56 ammunition is a high calibre, high penetration round commonly used in military assault rifles. The Sig Sauer handgun is also commonly used by law enforcement and armed forces around the world and uses 9mm ammunition.

Images of the seized weapons are available on the NCA Flickr page -


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