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Orpington's Christopher Tappin will return to UK after pleading guilty

Retired businessman Christopher Tappin, with his wife Elaine. Picture: Sean Dempsey/PA Wire

Retired businessman Christopher Tappin, with his wife Elaine. Picture: Sean Dempsey/PA Wire

PA Archive/Press Association Images

Retired Orpington businessman Christopher Tappin pleaded guilty when he appeared in a US court yesterday on weapons charges after reaching a deal with prosecutors.

The 65-year-old of Larch Dene, Farnborough Park, previously denied attempting to sell 50 Oxide batteries for Iranian surface-to-air missiles.

Mr Tappin was due to go on trial in Texas on Monday and if convicted could have faced up to 35 years in prison.

He previously claimed to be the victim of an FBI sting, saying he believed he was exporting car batteries to the Netherlands.

His plea bargain requests a 33-month sentence which he should be able to serve in the UK. He is due to be sentenced on 9 January.

Speaking after the hearing, his wife Elaine said: “My overwhelming feeling remains one of anxiety and sadness.

“However, at last I dare hope that Chris will be back on home soil next year. I feel we are getting to the beginning of the end.”

The former director of Surrey based Brooklands International Freight Services was arrested in 2010 and fought extradition for two years, arriving in America in February. He spent 60 days in Otero County prison, in New Mexico, before he was released on bail in April and is now living in Houston, Texas.

His bail requires him to wear an electronic tag, surrender his passport and only travel between El Paso and Houston, where he is staying with one of his lawyers.

Mr Tappin was formerly the president of Kent Golf Union which refused to comment on his change of plea.

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