In pictures: Merseyside policeman selling Nazi mugs, knives and fake guns

Potentially lethal weapons and sickening WW2 objects sold by officer’s business

 

 
PC David Woods leaving Liverpool Magistrates Court

A Merseyside Police officer viewed as being of “questionable integrity” by bosses runs a sideline business selling machetes, knives and ultra-realistic replica guns.

PC David Woods, who the ECHO last week revealed has lost the confidence of Merseyside Police chiefs, even advertises vile mugs bearing Nazi insignia.

Military Mart, of which Woods is a co-director along with two others, sells a shopping list of potentially lethal weapons – including bayonets and axes – from a vast army surplus warehouse in Ormskirk.

The company, which also operates online, describes itself as “one of the largest and best stocked retailers in the UK”.

The ECHO understands Woods has declared Military Mart as a business interest to bosses at Merseyside Police.

But concerns were today raised over the stock available to buy from the company which advertises 20 different kinds of air rifles and pistols, including powerful replicas of Uzi sub-machine guns, handguns and AK47s.

While it is not illegal to sell knives or air-powered imitation firearms to those over 18, Merseyside Police last night launched an investigation into whether Woods’ business met policing standards after our dossier was made available to them.

Cllr Simon Shaw, a member of Merseyside’s Police and Crime Panel, said: “It is crucial that these particular allegations are fully investigated as soon as possible.

“In particular, although I understand that this business interest was declared, was the nature of some of the items reportedly on sale made clear?

“Maintaining full public confidence in the police is obviously vital, and that is why outside business interests have to be declared and sometimes can be a problem.

“For example a police officer normally can’t be the owner or part-owner of a pub.”

As revealed by the ECHO last week, Woods was based within the force’s Matrix unit – the specialist unit set up to tackle gun and knife crime on Merseyside – before being moved out after “serious concerns” over his integrity arose.

He currently carries out front-line police duties in Knowsley, including executing drug warrants and tackling organised crime gangs.

Companies House records list David Woods, his brother Paul Woods and his 18-year-old nephew Andrew Woods as co-directors of Military Mart, based in a business park in County Road.

On Friday, the ECHO purchased a 14-inch Finnish stainless steel blade without any questions being asked. Our reporter was not asked for identification and no log appeared to be made to record the sale.

The company’s Facebook profile shows images of air rifles available to purchase. Underneath a customer comment “Where has the ak47s gone?”, the company posted: “Think you took them all Roy, something to do with a bank wasn’t it? Hahaha.”

Military Mart, which is the trading name of Hoods (UK) Ltd, registered to an address in Deyes Lane, Maghull, also advertises heavy-duty handcuffs, children’s gas masks and the confederate flag – often considered a symbol of oppression and slavery.

The company advertises mugs bearing the Nazi swastika – which it describes as “popular among […] rifle enthusiasts” and the Totenkopf – the skull and crossbones symbol of the SS.

PC Woods was among a number of officers investigated by the force’s anti-corruption unit over alleged wrongdoing within the Matrix unit in 2010.

Since 2011, he has continued to be employed under a Service Confidence Plan (SCP) – a tool used to monitor and “restore confidence” in officers whose integrity is called into question when “serious concerns arise” and “criminal or misconduct proceedings are not possible”.

In June last year PC Woods received a certificate of merit for his “hard work, dedication and commitment in targeting individuals involved in serious and organised crime”.

A Merseyside Police last night confirmed it was to investigate claims that a “serving police officer has registered a business interest that may not be appropriate”.

A spokesman said: “The force, in accordance with national guidance from the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO), has a policy that requires officers to register business interests outside their police employment.

“All declared registered business interests are considered on a case-by-case basis by management and either approved or declined.“Consideration is given to a range of factors, including the suitability of the business, performance in the workplace and compliance with the Working Time regulations.

“Once approved these interests are regularly reviewed by the force.

“This matter has now been referred to the force’s Professional Standards Department and this particular business interest is to be reviewed. As such it is not appropriate to comment any further.”

Merseyside Police Federation – the union of rank-and-file officers – declined to comment when asked whether a military surplus store selling knives and imitation firearms was in keeping with the ethos of being a police officer.

Chairman Peter Singleton said he believed PC Woods had followed official guidelines by declaring his business interest to Merseyside Police.

He said: “I am aware of it. I understand it has been registered and cleared with the force. I can only assume the force are happy with it.”

PC Woods and Military Mart declined to comment to the ECHO.

I wasn’t asked for ID when I bought a hunting knife

 

Echo reporter Neil Docking bought a hunting knife
Echo reporter Neil Docking bought a hunting knife

Entering the Military Mart store in Ormskirk, I was instantly taken aback by the variety of weapons on display, writes Neil Docking.

Adorning the wall behind the counter was a selection of crossbows, and further to my left, a rack of air rifles.

Within glass cabinets I could see air pistols, which to somebody like me who is unfamiliar with guns, looked just like the real thing.

A sign said these were on sale to over-18s only.

Locked away there were also a number of knives, including Swedish steel blades on sale for as little as £7.99.

Before I made my selection I had a wander around the store, pausing to look at lots of inert ammunition and cartridges, gun holsters, a Ninja grappling hook and some Army-issue Kevlar body armour.

Among the camping equipment I also spotted mugs for sale, including one titled ‘The Taliban Hunting Club’ and astonishingly, another bearing the Nazi skull the Totenkopf – the symbol of the SS.

I decided to buy a 35cm Finnish blade with a leather sheath for £24 and asked a young assistant for some help.

He went behind the counter, producing two sizes of the blade.

At no point was I asked for any identification, or asked any questions about why I was buying the knife, or what for.

Shopping list from the Mersey cop’s shop

  • Nazi eagle mug, £3.99: “Popular among rifle enthusiasts.”
  • Uzi 4.5mm air gun, £169,99: “Full metal” with “blow back action.”
  • Crossbow pistol, £29.99: Firing at speeds of 150ft/second.
  • Desert eagle air pistol, £175: “This big pistol has even bigger reputation and rightly so.”
  • Gas chamber sign, £7.50: “Ideal for kid’s bedrooms.”
  • Ninja grappling hook, £24: “Easy to carry and compact.”
  • Junior air rifle, £79.99, “Ideal for youngsters.”
  • Blowback air pistol, £99.99: “Feels & replicates the actions of a real fire-arm.”
  • AK47 air rifle, £190: Metal and wood version of the Soviet assault rifle.
  • BlowBack .177 air pistol, £119.99: “Enjoy the excitement of the Walther PPK/S, one of the world’s most recognizable pistols made infamous by featuring in numerous James Bond movies.”
  • Deluxe triple throwing knife set, £12.50: “Each knife is a different style, all measure 9 inches in length.”
  • Western air rifle, £399: “Thanks to a big boost in firing capacity, the gun is more fun than ever to use.”
  • Kids Russian gas mask, £9.99: Gas mask issued to protect Soviet children from nuclear attacks
  • Vietnamese tomahawk axe, £46.99: “Considered one of the more unusual weapons of its day.”
  • 13’’ machete, £8: Military Mart’s cheapest machete
  • “Heavy duty” handcuffs, £14.99: With double-locking action.

From The Liverpool Echo. 06.10.14. Report by John Siddle, Neil Docking

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