A BOLTON man has been jailed after police discovered a hidden cache of sub machine guns and ammunition as well as cocaine and more than £140,000 at a property in London.

Terence O'Connor first came to police attention after he was seen handing over what was thought to be a large bag of cash to a suspect.

But after officers arrested him and searched a flat in Edgware the 25-year-old was linked to, they discovered a false wall panel, behind which was a holdall containing a fully-functioning 9mm Uzi sub machine gun and a .32 auto Skorpion sub-machine gun plus ammunition and a silencer.

The Bolton News:

At Harrow Crown Court O'Connor, of Webb Street, Horwich, was sentenced to 16 years and three months in prison after pleading guilty to a string of offences including possessing and supplying cocaine, two counts of possessing a firearm with intent to endanger life, possessing a silencer and ammunition and possessing criminal property.

The Bolton News: SilencerSilencer

The court heard that officers from the Met's Proactive Money Laundering Team first spotted O'Connor on April 21 last year when he handed a bag to a suspect they were already monitoring.

Then, nine days later, on April 30, he was being watched as he sat in a parked car in Silverston Way, Edgware.

But when he got out of the vehicle and started moving items in the boot, detectives became concerned and moved in in unmarked police cars.

O'Connor was arrested at the back of the car and, when a black rucksack at his feet was searched, it was found to contain a large amount of cocaine.

He immediately denied it was his, stating: "I’ve never seen that before."

But officers also found an encrypted ‘EncroChat’ mobile phone on him and he was arrested on suspicion of possession of a Class A drug with intent to supply.

Police then made further discoveries. When the car was examined a hiding place was discovered within a passenger side interior panel. Although it was empty, apart from two latex gloves, it was thought that it could conceal a large amount of illegal items.

Officers then searched an address linked to O'Connor on Amais Drive, Edgware, and recovered £143,080 in cash, a money counting machine and additional quantities of cocaine.

The Bolton News: Cash and a counterCash and a counter

In total officers seized about a kilo of cocaine, with a wholesale value of about £36,000.

Empty drugs packaging found also indicated that around 100 kilos of cocaine had been processed at the flat.

But a more sinister turn was taken when a false wall panel was discovered.

The Bolton News: Hide area showing the false panel pulled forwardHide area showing the false panel pulled forward

Inside the void was a holdall containing cache of automatic weapons and ammunition as well as a compatible silencer.

The firearms were made safe and when they were sent off for testing forensic experts confirmed they were a fully functioning 9mm Uzi sub machine gun and a .32 auto Skorpion sub-machine gun.

The Bolton News: AmmunitionAmmunition

Both had compatible magazines and could be used with the silencer. In addition, 332 rounds of ammunition were recovered, which included additional rounds of .38 calibre ammunition.

When interviewed by police O'Connor made no comment.

The Bolton News: Terence O'ConnorTerence O'Connor

Speaking after O'Connor was jailed, Detective Constable Kevin Davies, the investigating officer from the Met’s Proactive Money Laundering Team, said: “This sentence reflects the seriousness of the matters under investigation and will serve as a deterrent to those involved in serious and organised crime.

“O’Connor was involved in large scale drug trafficking and was also instrumental in the laundering of the proceeds of this crime. He had possession of dangerous automatic weapons, ammunition and a silencer, which would have been capable of causing death and serious injury on the streets of London.

“This investigation shows the close link between money laundering and those committing the most harm within London’s communities. It is also another example of the inextricable link between money, drugs and violence. We remain committed to putting people like O’Connor behind bars to ensure London is a safer place for everyone.”