A FORMER Braintree Town defender has been jailed for his involvement in a plot to supply “an extremely dangerous” criminal with a sub-machine gun and loaded pistol.

Ricky Gabriel, 28, will serve 14 years behind bars alongside identical brothers Reiss and Ralston after the trio were convicted of conspiracy to possess firearms and ammunition with intent to endanger life.

The brothers, who are triplets and now live in north London, were arrested following an investigation carried out by Scotland Yard.

Detectives found mobile phone and surveillance evidence which showed all three men were involved in the handling of the weapons.

The firearms were meant for Aron Thomas, 32, who was caught with another loaded revolver and ammunition when he was arrested in April 2017.

At the time, he was on licence, having been released from an 11-year prison sentence for opening fire at random towards a crowded street near Wood Green Tube station in 2010.

The Gabriel brothers were convicted following a trial back in July and were each sentenced to 14 years in jail when they appeared at Blackfriars Crown Court last Friday.

They were spotted smirking and grinning to friends and family members in the public gallery as they were taken down to the cells.

After sentencing, Scotland Yard temporary Detective Chief Inspector Driss Hayoukane said: “The trio tried to exploit their identical DNA and appearance to try and evade the consequences of their actions, but the hard work of the investigation team prevented their attempts.

“Through their actions in this case, these men have thrown away promising careers and futures.”

Ricky joined Braintree Town in the 2017/2018 season and played a key role in manager Brad Quinton’s team which won promotion to the National League via the play-offs.

But he left the Irons on a free transfer back in March this year and in a statement on Twitter, he said he would leave Cressing Road with “great memories”.

He also thanked staff and fans for their support.

No reason was given for his departure.