A JURY has been unable to reach verdicts on several charges against a former Army captain accused of stealing weapons from the Ministry of Defence.

Peter Laidler, 71, of Anson Close, Marcham, was on trial at Winchester Crown Court, where he was acquitted of nine counts of theft and one charge of handling stolen goods.

The jury was unable to reach verdicts on a further four theft charges as well as a count of handling stolen goods against MoD police officer Roger Smith, of Bullfinch Road, Emsworth.

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The 61-year-old was earlier acquitted of five charges of handling stolen goods.


A third defendant, Stuart Pemberton, 52, of Temple, Corsley, Warminster, was found not guilty of one count of handling an allegedly stolen £50,000 sniper rifle.

Adrian Bull, 64, of High Street, Devizes, was acquitted of three counts of handling stolen goods after the judge said there was no case to answer.

The case has now been listed to be heard at Salisbury Crown Court on January 31 to determine whether there will be a re-trial.

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The trial heard that Laidler, who is also a former police officer, was alleged to have stolen rifles while he worked as the armourer for the Small Arms School Collection (SASC) in Warminster.

The SASC is an MoD collection showing the development of small weapons from the 16th century to the present day.

Among the firearms stolen were SA80s, the Army's standard issue automatic rifle, Lee Enfield and Mauser rifles, the court was told.

The defendants deny all the charges.