Police uncovered firearms hidden at luxury West Wales hotel
A MAN has gone on trial accused of possessing illegal guns at a luxury West Wales hotel.
Steven Pearce, 44, was arrested by police in December 2011 while travelling in a Bentley convertible near Cross Hands.
He is now on trial at Swansea Crown Court after denying possession of two guns without proper authority, a 9mm semi- automatic Walther P1 pistol and a 9mm Tula Tokarev pistol.
The guns were both discovered in a holdall, hidden under a bed in a guest room at the Hurst House Hotel, Laugharne, once owned by TV star Neil Morrissey.
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Pearce also denies having had ammunition which was designed or adapted to expand on impact and possessing ammunition without holding a firearm certificate.
Two co-accused men, James Brown, 45, and Andrew Stewart, 52, from London have already pleaded guilty to the same charges but are yet to be sentenced.
All three men have admitted a fifth charge of possessing .22LR rimfire rounds, adapted to expand on impact.
Ian Wright, prosecuting told the jury Brown and Pearce were arrested at 5.25pm after officers followed Brown’s Bentley Continental convertible along the A48 towards Cross Hands.
Stewart was arrested at 10.30pm near Carmarthen.
After their arrests, two rooms and an external building were searched at the Hurst House Hotel.
The court heard that PC Jason Jones found a black sports holdall hidden under a double bed in room 120 of the hotel. When he opened it, he found a jacket, laid on top of a Sony speaker box. Inside the box was polystyrene packaging which contained the two pistols.
He also found live ammunition and a magazine, compatible for use with the Walther gun.
Live shotgun cartridges were also recovered and more ammunition was found inside a safe in the room.
When officers searched East House Farm, which Pearce gave the court as his address, they found a rifle.
Pearce has already pleaded guilty to possessing that rifle without authority.
More ammunition was found in the house, which is around half a mile from the main hotel.
A large black holdall was also recovered from the house, which contained a magazine for use with the Tula Tokarev pistol.
Mr Wright told the jury that DNA and fingerprint tests were carried out on the exhibits. He said DNA profiles matching Pearce were found on the Tula magazine.
Mr Wright said Pearce could not be excluded from DNA found on the Walther gun and parts of his DNA were found on the Tula Tokarev gun.
A match was made between Pearce’s DNA and the jacket from inside the holdall as well as polystyrene packaging inside and outside of the speaker box.
Mr Wright said the probability of the DNA found inside the jacket belonging to Pearce was one in a billion.
Mr Wright said: “The prosecution case is that the three men were in joint possession of the firearms and the ammunition at various locations that were searched.”
Four witnesses were called on the first day of trial.
PC Jones detailed finding the guns before crime scene investigator Richard Law detailed his collection of the evidence.
Both men were asked by defence barrister Frances Jones to detail their contact with the exhibits.
During his cross-examination he quizzed them on whether they had touched the guns and if they had changed gloves between items to prevent contamination between pieces of evidence.
PC Jones said he did not handle the guns as they were unsafe and Mr Law said he had changed his gloves between each exhibit.
Evidence was also heard from a firearms and licensing officer, Helen Rees. She told the court that while Pearce had a valid shotgun licence in December 2011, he had cancelled his firearms certificate in August 2009, something Pearce disputes.
The trial continues.