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Man arrested after huge 'weapons factory' is uncovered in London

Man arrested after huge 'weapons factory' is uncovered in London

Evan Girdlestone was arrested after potentially functioning convert handguns were found in a Merton industrial unit

A 47-year-old man has been arrested after officers from the National Crime Agency discovered what they believe to be a weapons factory in an industrial unit.

Evan Girdlestone, from South London, has been remanded in custody and charged with several offences under the Firearms Act.

He was arrested on Thursday in Croydon after officers from the NCA’s Armed Operations Unit found what they believe to be a functioning converted firearm and magazines of 9mm ammunition in a car.

Girdlestone has been charged with possession of a firearm, specifically a handgun contrary to Section 5 of the Firearms Act 1968, as well as possession of ammunition contrary to Section 1 of that same act.

The NCA called the unit a 'suspected firearms conversion factory'.
National Crime Agency

After he was arrested and taken into custody, officers then went to an industrial unit in the Lombard Road area of Merton in South London, where they discovered a load of tools and hardware, including machinery.

They believe that some of the things they found could be used in the manufacture of weapons and ammunition.

As well as that, they discovered a number of blank firers, more than 100 rounds of live ammunition, more than a thousand rounds of blank ammunition, and three converted weapons that they believe could potentially have been functioning.

There were also a number of 3D printing machines that the officers believe could be used to print parts for converted weapons.

Currently, those weapons and materials are being analysed by forensic experts.

Appearing in court, Girdlestone did not enter a plea.

He was remanded to appear at Croydon Crown Court on June 16.

The 47-year-old spoke only to confirm his name, date of birth, and address.

A spokesperson from the NCA described this arrest as having been part of a ‘significant operation’, explaining how stopping converted weapons from making it out onto the streets is a priority for the organisation.

They found a number of potentially functioning converted firearms.
National Crime Agency

Debbie Palmer-Lawrence, from the Armed Operations Unit, said: "This was a significant operation which uncovered a suspected firearms conversion factory being used to convert blank-firing weapons into lethal guns.

"We know that these types of weapons are in demand by criminals.

"They are often used in acts of serious violence, as well as being used by crime groups to coerce and intimidate.

"This is why stopping them reaching the streets is a priority for the NCA.

“Our investigation continues and I’d like to thank Metropolitan Police and military partners for their support throughout the searches.”

Featured Image Credit: National Crime Agency

Topics: Crime, UK News, London