A Lithuanian man who handed three deadly Russian-made hand guns to an accomplice in a car park in the West Midlands has had his jail term cut by more than a quarter.
Andrius Valnuchinas, 39, was spotted by undercover police officers passing three Tordev 7.62mm semi-automatic pistols and three magazines of bullets to another man outside the Curry’s Superstore, at the Gallagher Retail Park, in Wednesbury.
Valnuchinas, of Lillian Grove, Bilston, was sentenced to 11 years in prison at Wolverhampton Crown Court in December, after he admitted three counts of transferring firearms and one count of illegal possession of ammunition.
However, three of the country’s most senior judges at London’s Appeal Court have upheld a sentence challenge by Valnuchinas, saying they were ‘constrained’ by the law to cut his term to eight years.
Judge Stephen Kramer QC said surveillance police watched as Valnuchinas carried the arsenal of weapons, wrapped in a Netto shopping bag, from the boot of his Ford Focus to that of a silver Mercedes parked nearby.
He placed the firearms into the boot of the second car and talked with the driver, before making off from the Axletree Way site in his own car, the appeal judge said. When police later searched the Mercedes, they found the three original hand guns and 24 rounds inside the Netto bag. After admitting the four offences, Valnuchinas was handed eight years for transferring the firearms and three years, consecutive, for the ammunition charge.
On appeal, his barrister insisted that the sentencing judge imposed a ‘manifestly excessive’ jail terms. Judge Kramer, sitting with Lord Justice Davis and Mr Justice Wyn Williams, said: “The guns here were very clearly destined for use in the furtherance of crime.”
However, he observed that the judge had erred in imposing consecutive sentences for offences that arose out of ‘the same transaction’.