Plumber who converted blank firing guns into deadly weapons is jailed

By James Smith

15th Apr 2024 | Local News

Evan Girdlestone has been jailed for seven years (image via SWNS)
Evan Girdlestone has been jailed for seven years (image via SWNS)

A plumber whose side hustle was converting blank-firing guns into deadly weapons has been jailed for seven years.

Evan Girdlestone used an industrial unit in Wimbledon as a workshop to make the production line of firearms.

The 48-year-old was investigated by the National Crime Agency (NCA) after intelligence was received in April last year.

Armed officers arrested Girdlestone as he walked to his parked car in Croydon on May 18 and found a converted gun with two magazines of ammunition hidden under the passenger seat.

Officers searched the unit and discovered converted weapons, imitation firearms, 174 rounds of live ammunition, a quantity of spent ammunition and multiple tools used to convert blank firers.

In total Girdlestone, of Colliers Wood, south London, was in possession of four converted guns and four unconverted blank firers.

He had also test fired his converted weapons at the unit shooting through phonebooks attached to a concrete wall.

Girdlestone even messaged associates about being injured by a ricochet.

He admitted four counts of possessing firearms, three counts of possessing ammunition and three counts of converting blank firearms at Croydon Crown Court.

He was jailed for seven years and two months at the same court on Friday (12 April).

Debbie Palmer-Lawrence, head of the NCA's Armed Operations Unit, said: "As an armourer, Girdlestone was reckless and a real danger to the public.

"He is now in the right place after excellent work by a variety of NCA teams to build the rock solid case against him. He had no choice but to plead guilty.

"Tackling the criminal use of firearms is a key priority for the NCA and we work with partners at home and abroad to do everything in our power to protect the public."


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