Fernhill Gang yob covered in dust hid loaded guns above chimney

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A gang member who hid two loaded guns above a chimney was caught with his hands covered in black dust.

Jack Quinton – part of the notorious Fernhill gang – desperately stashed an Italian revolver and a semi-automatic Glock with a silencer.

But his hands revealed a telltale clue when armed police burst into a garage the 26-year-old had taken over in Bootle.

Quinton, who was on licence from prison for a gangland kidnapping and terrifying burglary, had only been freed six months earlier.

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A judge today branded him a dangerous offender, as he appeared for sentencing alongside the mother of his seven-month-old daughter.

Matrix officers recovered two firearms and ammunition from a house on Bedford Road, Bootle

However, Darhyl Hannah-Smith, 29, who ferried the crook around in her car and helped him after his arrest, was spared jail.

Liverpool Crown Court heard armed officers stormed the business in Bedford Road, shortly after 5pm, on March 28 last year.

Officers seized the Austrian pistol and Castelli of Brescia 1913 Revolver along with 10 rounds of 9mm ammunition – capable of being fired with either weapon.

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Nicola Daley, prosecuting, said: "Jack Quinton's DNA was recovered not only on the straps and handles of the bags, but also from various surfaces around the weapons.

"These weapons were 'ready to go'. As well as being loaded, the Glock had with it a silencer, which the court could infer was to enable the firearm to be used stealthily, in order to have maximum impact."

Police cordoned off part of Bedford Road as they recovered firearms

Earlier that day Quinton and two other men went to see the landlord of the property – used by a company called NJ Autos – and explained its owner had disappeared.

They agreed to take over the lease and Quinton handed over £1,500 in cash for rent, deposit and arrears.

Five hours later, armed police arrived, set up a cordon, then broke a padlock to gain entry to the garage.

Ms Daley said: "It is believed that Jack Quinton hid the firearms on top of the chimney breast prior to the police gaining access to the garage.

"When he was arrested, his hands were covered in black dust."

Shortly beforehand Quinton called then pregnant Smith, who drove to the scene, then rang him again.

Ms Daley said when her boyfriend came outside he "indicated it was all a misunderstanding".

A clean red bag was discovered on top of the "very dusty" chimney breast, which contained two further bags.

One was a Boss man bag, containing a revolver and six rounds of ammunition, plus a gold container with a further five rounds inside.

The other was a grey shoulder bag, containing the Glock, loaded magazine and silencer.

Matrix officers recovered two firearms and ammunition from a house on Bedford Road, Bootle

Undercover police had been watching the couple in the weeks beforehand and Smith was regularly seen driving Quinton to various addresses.

Ms Daley said: "The prosecution case is that she was not simply his partner, unaware as to what he was doing, but was close to him, spent a lot of her time with him, and that he did not hide what he was involved in from her."

Within hours of being remanded in custody, she said Quinton got hold of a pay-as-you-go SIM card.

Smith sent him phone numbers, including one for an inmate at Whitemoor prison in Cambridgeshire, who Quinton had been in contact with before his arrest.

When she was arrested, the number for this new SIM card was stored on her phone as "my lover".

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Quinton was also seen driving an Audi RS4 on March 22 last year, which was initially stolen from Worksop, Nottinghamshire, on March 8.

The estimated £10,000 motor was stolen again from a recovery garage in South Yorkshire three days later and his DNA was found inside and on false registration plates.

Quinton, of Garden View, Caspian Place, Bootle, and Smith, of Crompton Street, Kirkdale, initially denied any wrongdoing.

After being confronted with the DNA evidence, Quinton admitted handling stolen goods.

But he still denied possessing the Glock with intent to endanger life, possessing the silencer, possessing the revolver and two counts of possessing ammunition, up until the opening day of a trial.

Jack Quinton when he was previously jailed

Quinton – formerly a driver for the Fernhill gang – has long standing links with firearms.

After his arrest in 2013 for kidnapping and aggravated burglary, his mobile phone was seized, which revealed photos of him posing with guns.

Brendan Carville, defending Quinton, today said he was still a young man, adding: "The Crown cannot say he was the user of the weapons."

Judge Thomas Teague, QC, said the fact a silencer was found with the Glock was "a very sinister aspect" of the case.

He told Quinton: "While it's impossible to say that you intended to use this weapon to endanger life or to enable others to do so, it is perfectly clear you were on any view extremely close to the firearms and their intended use in the furtherance of activities of an organised crime group."

The judge accepted a pre-sentence report revealed he had "a truly terrible start in life and a very disturbed and no doubt unhappy childhood".

He said Quinton had "conformed" in jail and completed courses, but "unfortunately you reverted to involvement in serious organised crime within a short time of your release".

Judge Teague jailed him for 13 and a half years, with an extended two and a half years on licence.

Quinton will have to serve a minimum of two thirds – nine years – behind bars, before he is eligible for parole.

Smith, who admitted participating in the criminal activities of an organised crime group, had no previous convictions.

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Julian Nutter, defending Smith, said as well as caring for her young daughter, she looked after her brother, who suffers from severe learning difficulties, and whose life had "collapsed" following the recent death of their father.

Judge Teague said: "She was driving around someone she knew was involved in a criminal group transporting firearms."

He told her: "You behaved foolishly and with extreme immaturity given that you are older than your boyfriend.

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"I do not accept you are simply an innocent victim. You went into it with your eyes open."

However, he accepted she played a subservient role and didn't represent a danger to the public.

Judge Teague handed her 16 months in jail, suspended for two years, plus 120 hours of unpaid work and a 10-day Rehabilitation Activity Requirement.