THE STRANGE CASE OF MANUEL WALLNER

This 23 year old Austrian drove to the UK in November 2014. Having completed his military national service he planned to embark on a career in the international security and close protection industry. He wanted to work in the Middle East or South America and had paid £4,200 to the BMG, (Blue Mountain Group), training company based in South Wales to attend a close protection course. Wallner received clear joining instructions but decided to bring items and equipment that had no relevance to the programme.  This included a .223/5.56mm semi-auto rifle, a 9mm semi-auto pistol, ammunition, knives, a tomahawk, batons, balaclavas and body armour. Wallner had legal permits for the firearms in Austria and obtained official transit permits for Europe but this did not include the UK where private possession of these particular type of firearms was illegal. Bizarrely the French port security authorities fully aware of what he was carrying allowed him on board a ferry from Calais to Dover. Furthermore they did not advise their British counterparts. On arrival in the UK he was subsequently not challenged and drove straight through the customs green channel and a further 250 miles to the small village of Llangynidr, (Just off the A40 near Crickhowell in Powys, South Wales. On arrival he checked into his accommodation at the Coach House Hotel. He met other course members that evening and naively and enthusiastically showed off his accoutrements in his hotel room. The police were called the following morning after fellow course candidates informed the course tutors. Wallner was arrested, he went to court in Swansea, was found guilty of illegal possession and importation of banned firearms and ammunition into the UK and was subsequently given a suspended prison sentence, fined, deported, had his firearms confiscated and lost his course fee. He escaped a prison sentence because the Judge considered that whilst Wallner had made a gross error he meant no harm and was not a threat.

What a strange coincidence in August 2015 to be able to find a steel roadside structure on a sheltered bend 4 miles south of Llangynidr on Brecon Beacon National  parkland cleanly struck and penetrated by 5 jacketed 9mm handgun rounds. What was particularly interesting was the 2 round “double tap” profile the shooter had employed top and bottom of the steel structure with a single shot in the middle. The “double tap ” is a kill technique widely recognised and employed in close quarter combat situations. Google Streetview overlap images displayed a “clean” structure in the summer of 2014.

Could Wallner possibly have been disturbingly and sufficiently motivated enough to carry out that shooting on the evening of his arrival and before he displayed his arsenal. He had the transport to reach the quiet location and perhaps the adrenalin fuelled desire to perpetrate it. If it wasn’t Wallner then bizarrely somebody else was lurking in the same vicinity in the same period armed with the same calibre of one of Wallner’s weapons employing tactical shooting techniques. I am merely speculating about the perpetrator but that outcome would surely be even worse. Roadside shooters are generally quite haphazard with their “signatures” but this gunman was extremely clinical employing the “double tap” shoot technique that the Austrian would have known about, studied and had undoubtedly employed on “legitimate” targets before.

Once arrested Wallner quickly discovered the severity of his gross error. He would hardly admit to anything else. If indeed he did perpetrate that shoot he would have hoped the police wouldn’t find the site. He didn’t have to worry. Perhaps in the final summing up the fact that he had 280 rounds of ammunition in his possession was not quite accurate.

Powys Police never noticed the site so close to sleepy Llangynidr where Wallner’s armed police arrest scenario unfolded. They remained unaware of it until it was reported to them in 2015.

It is still there for all to see.

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