British Man Who Used The Dark Web To Create A Gun Haul Handed Jail Sentence


Stephen MacMahon, a Leicester man, who had created a gun haul at his house, thanks to the dark web has been jailed for 10 years. The 47-year-old had dozens of firearms including pistols, stun guns, rifles, a pump-action shotgun, revolvers, tasers, and pistols with a wide range of real and rubber bullets. MacMahon pleaded guilty to 33 weapons and ammunition charges  before being handed the sentence at the Leicester Crown Court.

MacMahon’s gun haul according to the police, was the largest arsenal of weapons ever seized in the city of Leicester. Detective Inspector Tim Lindley also added that the gun haul seized was more than the total number of firearms seized last year in both Lincolnshire and Leicestershire. The illegal gun haul had over 150 guns and was kept in the bedroom of his Coalville home.

Gun Haul

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The Leicester native’s illegal firearms were uncovered after a search on his house by police officers on April 17, 2019. During the raid, MacMahon’s bedroom was locked and he told officers that, the room was a study for his late father who passed away three years ago and hasn’t been opened since he didn’t have a key. He also told officers that, it was convenient to let them in as his mother had also passed recently.

After Police officers had drilled out the lock on the door, MacMahon stated that there might be some army re-enactment stuff and maybe even a BB gun but he wasn’t sure since he didn’t have any knowledge of them. Officers still searched the room regardless and uncovered the illegal gun haul.

The police also found detail instructions on how to make a homemade hand grenade but were not sure if he had obtained that too from the dark web. A second handbook was also found with the title “How to react to a terror attack,” as well as another detailed plan on how to make a chlorine pipe bomb.

During interrogation, the Leicester man denied any knowledge on the dark web nor about online orders placed in America. He suggested that someone might have been using his details on the dark web. Court documents however quoted prosecutors saying that they saw a one-month-old order of service leaflet from the funeral of his mother due to the date on it. Officers also uncovered recent newspaper cuttings from April 2018 and knew he was lying about not having access to the room for years.

Court documents revealed that MacMahon was unemployed at the time of his arrest and had been collecting the illegal firearms on several dark web marketplaces. MacMahon reportedly took 15 years to amass the haul and was still set on acquiring different firearms that were missing from his collection.

The 47-year-old stated that he was fascinated with military and police firearms and weapons. Prosecutors also revealed in court that, MacMahon had his shotgun license revoked for months but still went ahead to build a collection of firearms he obtained from the dark web. A firearm certificate belonging to MacMahon’s parents which were related to lawfully owning two-family shotguns was revoked in January 2018 days after his mother was admitted to the hospital. The defendant had however tried on several occasions to have the certificate reinstated but failed to do so.

Prosecutors stated in court that, there were numerous pieces of evidence showing that MacMahon had used the dark web in creating his gun haul. Private emails that showed details and discussions of some of his purchases were uncovered. In one of the uncovered emails, MacMahon had persuaded one seller on the dark web to sell him a weapon despite not having a firearms certificate and how that wasn’t even important.

Police officers also revealed that most of the stun guns uncovered at MacMahon’s house were disguised as other electronic and house objects. Two of the stun guns were disguised as an Apple iPhone whiles several others appeared to be a knuckle duster. Other stun guns were also designed to look like pepper sprays and a police baton. Police officers also uncovered other weapons such as rare butterfly knives and machetes which he bought off the dark web.

Prosecutor Katya Saudek stated that the defendant had a long-standing dangerous obsession that underwent a period of many illegal activities. She, however, added that MacMahon’s enthusiastic behavior as a firearms collector, however, doesn’t do him any good in getting a lesser sentence. Miss Saudek told the court that, some receipts uncovered, matched many items that were not found in the raid, suggesting that, MacMahon might have sold or transferred them to other criminals or were kept in hiding. She expressed her displeasure at that and stated that the real danger was those illegal firearms getting into the hands of dangerous criminals in the society.


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MacMahon has a sister who is currently serving as a police officer in Derbyshire whiles his deceased father also served on the Essex police force. MacMahon had previously wished to join the police force as he applied more than once but was not accepted. Court documents stated that he tried to buy several Glocks on the dark web to add to his collection but was unsuccessful. MacMahon is also entangled in a civil lawsuit with his sister as he is alleged to have misappropriated assets worth £200,000 which belonged to their late parents.

The court also heard MacMahon’s gun haul was worth more than thousands of pounds even though he was unemployed at the time of his arrest. He previously held low paying jobs and was later listed as a carer for his then sick mom, earning an allowance. His defense attorney, Stephen Newcombe told the court that, his client only wanted to advance the knowledge on some of the firearms he had collected over the past few years.

Mr. Newcombe stated that, apart from the shotgun which was a family heirloom transferred from Ireland years ago, most of the firearms were just designed to fire rubber bullets. He added that his pistols were blank firing pistols and could only shoot fire flares and not real bullets. Mr. Newcombe pleaded with the judge to have leniency as most of MacMahon’s weapons did not represent the danger as real firearms.

Source: BBC

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