A FORMER armourer at the Ministry of Defence Small Arms Collection in Warminster has been found guilty of stealing live and deactivated firearms from a store following a retrial.

Peter Laidler, 72, of Marcham, Oxfordshire, took four rifles from the army base where he worked.

Roger Smith, 51, a former military policeman from Emsworth, Hampshire, was convicted of handling a stolen rifle.

Smith will be sentenced at Winchester Crown Court on September 20, while Laidler will be sentenced at a date yet to be set.

In January, a jury cleared Laidler, a former British army reservist, of 10 offences and Smith of a further five, but it was unable to reach verdicts on the remaining charges.

Laidler, a firearms enthusiast and former Territorial Army captain, worked as the collection's armourer, helping to maintain the weapons, the court heard.

He stole four rifles from the Ministry of Defence between 1998 and 2016. He sold one of them, an L96 Accuracy International sniper rifle, for £10,000, police said.

The other stolen firearms were a deactivated version of the same model, and live and deactivated SA80 rifles.

Smith was found with a stolen SA80 rifle at his home, the court heard.

The Ministry of Defence Police said it had contacted 98 witnesses as part of an investigation which began in 2016.