Three wannabe gangsters caught selling guns in a police sting will spend a combined total of 33 years in prison after they were sentenced today.

The trio, from South London, were subject of a long and complex police operation, where undercover officers bought guns and ammunition from them.

Hume Bent, 47, of Thornton Heath, was given 17 years for conspiracy to possess firearms with intent to enable another to endanger life.

Christopher Mckenzie, 26, also of Thornton Heath, was sentenced to 12 years in prison for possessing a firearm with intent to endanger life. McKenzie had his sentence reduced for pleading guilty.

Carlos Moncrieffe, 47, of Beckenham Hill Road, will serve four years in prison, for selling ammunition and two separate drug offences.

Bent, who used to work as a security officer at Croydon Crown Court, thought he was selling weapons to gangsters from the Midlands but he was in fact dealing with undercover cops.

The operation was set up to infiltrate supply of weapons, which included a sawn off shotgun and various other guns.

The trio were arrested in October 2011 after months of undercover work from the cops.

The police believed that the group had underworld connections, with McKenzie saying on one tape that he was involved with one of the "baddest gangs in south London".

Garry Green, defending Mckenzie, said he was just saying it to show off.

In sentencing, Judge Jeremy Gold said in the current climate, weapons offences had to he dealt with appropriately.

He said: "Guns kill and maim and terrorise and intimidate. And those that involve themselves in the supply of guns and ammunition strike in the heart of our society.

It has a devastating effect on individuals and it has a corrosive impact on the community.

"Substantial sentences make it clear to those who are involved in gun crime what awaits them when they come before the court."