A ‘GUN runner’ sold a bounty of firearms in the car park of a convenience store while his associates stashed an AK47 in a vacant office building, a trial has heard.

Robert Brazendale, from Thelwall, went on trial at Manchester Crown Square Crown Court today, Thursday, accused of being an ‘essential cog in a machine which ran guns to other criminals’.

Jurors heard that the 34-year-old first supplied a gang courier with an AK47 assault rifle in exchange for a sum of £10,500 on the car park of the Tesco Express store on Knutsford Road in Grappenhall at around 4.30pm on April 14 last year.

Another exchange on the same date saw apparent conspirator Hitesh Patel drive from London to Warrington in order to courier a host of weapons back to the capital in a Toyota Yaris.

Around 20 minutes after the first transfer, Brazendale cycled back to the same store and handed over a Skorpion machine pistol, and Uzi submachine gun, a Taurus Brasil revolver and ammunition for the sum of £37,000 in cash.

Patel was also meant to receive an AK47, but the firearm would not fit in a hidden compartment inside the car.

Instead, the weapon was picked up from the store by Bilal Khan in his BMW the following day.

All three handovers were captured on CCTV.

The assault rifle was then taken onwards to an office on Firecrest Court in Centre Park, which the latter was employed to manage.

Here Khan met Umair Zaheer – who was allegedly ‘at the centre of things’ and had offered the weapons for sale via EncroChat, an encrypted communications platform commonly utilised by criminals.

He arrived at the scene in his Volkswagen Tiguan before leaving the business park at around 7pm and returning home to Eccles.

The Firecrest Court unit was raided by the National Crime Agency on April 21 2020, with an East German AK47 and two clips of ammunition discovered in holdall inside the premises.

Some of this ammunition was ‘soft nosed’ and designed to expand upon impact with the target in order to ‘cause catastrophic levels of injury’.

Khan’s home was searched by police the following day, while Zaheer was arrested after a chase with police on the East Lancashire Road on April 23 2020.

Brazendale was arrested on his bicycle near to the Tesco Express on April 27 2020 in possession of an EncroChat phone.

His storage container at Latchford Locks was then searched, with £17,000 in cash found inside.

Brazendale was described by prosecution barrister Tim Storrie during his opening as a ‘gun runner associated with deals to supply the weaponry’ and the ‘keeper of the guns, money and other people’s secrets’.

Mr Storrie added: “Together, Umair Zaheer and Robert Brazendale were dealing in astonishingly lethal arms.

“These were not the weapons of casual thuggery.

“They included assault rifles – with all of the terrible implications of that phrase – and machine guns capable of sustained rapid fire.

“Singly, or in combination, they were guns and ammunition that were designed to wreak havoc of the most catastrophic kind.

“Robert Brazendale’s role was to store weapons and be the point of contact between Zaheer, who had brokered the deals, and couriers who collected the weapons he sold.

“We say he could not have performed that role without intending that others would be able to endanger people’s lives.”

Brazendale, of Selworthy Drive, has admitted conspiracy to transfer prohibited weapons but denies conspiracy to possess firearms and ammunition with intent to endanger life.

He ‘admits his part in the transfer of weapons but denies that he did so with any intention that the weapon be used to endanger life’.

Zaheer, of Manchester, denies the same charge.

Patel, of London, and Khan, of Manchester, previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to possess firearms with intent to endanger life.

Also on trial are Manchester men Brandon Moore, Jordan Waring, Louis Coleman – who, alongside Zaheer, are alleged to have been involved in a plot to murder Salford man Tyler Lomas after Moore and Waring were injured in a shooting in Salford in April 2020.

Mr Lomas was arrested before the apparent revenge killing could be carried out.

All four deny conspiracy to commit murder.

The trial continues, and is expected to last several weeks.