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Own goal Former professional footballer Paul Shepherd (43) faces time behind bars after drugs and gun rap

Shepherd had earlier been stopped in his car by West Yorkshire Police officers who found a block of cocaine in his vehicle

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Paul Shepherd

Paul Shepherd

Paul Shepherd

Former professional footballer Paul Shepherd (43) is facing time behind bars after he was convicted of drugs and gun offences. 

Shepherd, who played for Leeds United and Luton Town, was charged with firearms offences after a Glock semi-automatic pistol and a Howa bolt-action rifle, as well as 200 rounds of ammunition, were seized from his home on Stainbeck Lane in April 2020.

Shepherd had earlier been stopped in his car by West Yorkshire Police officers who found a block of cocaine in his vehicle.

That discovery led to his home being raided - with search teams then finding a pistol, a rifle and 200 rounds of ammunition.

The National Crime Agency (NCA) then launched an investigation when an encrypted phone and drugs were found at Shepherd’s home.

The investigation was part of Operation Venetic - a crackdown on criminal activity on the encrypted comms platform EncroChat.

Messages on the seized Encro phone linked Shepherd to the firearms which were later found in his home.

It also led to further arrests and seizures of weapons across West Yorkshire, Merseyside and the North East.

Those arrested included Gerard Wignall (33) from Merseyside, who was sentenced to 16 months in prison last month after his DNA was found on the rifle at Shepherd’s house.

Shepherd was found guilty of four charges relating to possessing a firearm and Class A drugs after a three-day trial at Leeds Crown Court.

Speaking after Shepherd's conviction, NCA Operations Manager, Nigel Coles, said: “Shepherd went to great lengths to acquire dangerous firearms that were criminally sourced.

“We’re pleased that the evidence presented at court this week has secured a guilty verdict and hope further charges can be proven at a later date.

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“The seriousness of gun crime cannot be underestimated.

"Had we not intercepted these weapons they would have been used to threaten and intimidate others with the potential loss of life. Reducing the availability of illegal firearms remains a priority for the NCA.

“We are still seeking one other man involved in this investigation.”

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