Colliers Wood Man Detained after Raid on Gun Factory

Equipment found for converting blank-firing guns into lethal weapons

A converted gun was one of the items found
A converted gun was one of the items found. Picture: NCA

May 23, 2023

A man from Colliers Wood has been arrested and charged after an armed police raid on a gun factory.

47-year-old Evan Girdlestone of Robinson Road was detained after an Armed Operations Unit of the National Crime Agency (NCA) entered the premises at a location in Croydon on Thursday morning (18 May).

A further search was made of an industrial unit linked to Mr Girdlestone in the Lombard Road area of Merton.

A specialist factory was uncovered at the Croydon location for converting blank-firing guns into lethal weapons using 3D printed parts.

The NCA says that it recovered what is believed to be a functioning converted weapon and magazines filled with 9mm ammunition in Mr Girdlestone’s car.

At the Lombard Road site there was an array of tools and machinery, including parts used in the manufacture of weapons and ammo, blank firers ready to be converted, more than a hundred rounds of live ammunition, around a thousand rounds of blank firing ammunition ready to be converted, and three potentially functioning converted weapons.

Some of the ammunition and guns found during the raids
Some of the ammunition and guns found during the raids. Picture: NCA

Officers also found several 3D printing machines suspected of being used to print component parts for converted weapons.

At one point the army bomb squad were called in to ensure the safety of the location after a quantity of suspected explosive powder was discovered.

The seized weapons are now being assessed and analysed by forensic experts.

Debbie Palmer-Lawrence, from the NCA’s 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.”

Mr Girdlestone has been charged with offences under the Firearms Act and was expected to appear before Croydon magistrates on Saturday 20 May.


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