A gun dealer and his customers, who were found with deadly sniper rifle with a silencer and maximum-damage bullets, have been jailed for a total of 58 years.

Woolwich Crown court heard on Friday (October 5) how Tyron Harding, 45, went to Lambeth to sell a gun to four other men which was loaded with ammunition designed to cause maximum injury on November 1, 2011.

Croydon Guardian: Rifle

Harding, from Phipps Bridge Road, Mitcham, was sentenced to 11 years in prison after admitting possessing a firearm with intent to endanger life.

One of the buyers, Loyan Osman, was then stopped in his minicab by police who were on a surveillance operation by the Metropolitan Police’s Trident unit, named Operation Boneset.

Osman, from Anchor Street, Catford, was found with the .22 bolt-action rifle, with 57 rounds of ammunition, after officers searched the boot of his car in Brighton Road, South Croydon.

Police also found a rifle with a sniper scope attached, along with a silencer. It was loaded with a bullet in the breach and more in a magazine.

Croydon Guardian: Magazine and bullets

Osman, Anthony Hosey, Khadar Mire and Nathaniel Tracey had been watched by police as they travelled from Lambeth in Mire's BMW to make the purchase from Harding.

As Osman travelled back to Lambeth in the minicab, his colleagues followed in the BMW.

Officers arrested Osman at the scene and later detained Hosey, Mire and Tracey following further investigation.

Weeks later, on December 12, officers raided the home of Harding's girlfriend in Merstham, near Redhill in Surrey, close to the scene of the first transaction on November 1.

While searching the loft they found a further .22 bolt-action rifle with telescopic sight and silencer, as well as three boxes of hollow-point ammunition, containing 62 rounds.

Croydon Guardian: ammo

Detective Sergeant Phil Holt, of the Trident Gang Crime Command, said: "These men were found in possession of the kind of lethal weaponry that is typically associated with the most dangerous of criminals.

"Such items are owned solely by those intent on causing serious harm to their planned target or targets, and our officers deserve huge credit for this intervention which followed a skilled and painstaking investigation.

"We can only speculate about the intended recipient of the second rifle found at Harding's home, however, what is clear is that London is far safer with these individuals and weapons off the streets."

Loyan Osman, 25, denied possession of a firearm with intent to endanger life but was convicted following a trial. He also admitted possession of a firearm and was sentenced to 14 years.

His accomplices pleaded not guilty but were convicted on June 22 by the court and also sentenced on October 5:

Anthony Hosey, 25, of Fiveways Road, Brixton, was sentenced to 16 years.

Khadar Mire, 25, of Bell Green Lane, Sydenham, was sentenced to 16 years.

Nathaniel Tracey, 27, of Akerman Road, Brixton, was sentenced to 15 years.