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Legacy of lethal weapons on UK streets

Hundreds of guns imported by jailed firearms dealer have not been traced.

A gun-dealer jailed for 30 years for illegally supplying pistols and ammunition to criminals has left a legacy of potentially lethal weapons on Britain’s streets.

The seizure of 50,000 live rounds of ammunition and guns imported or brought back into service by Paul Edmunds, had undoubtedly “protected many members of the public” according to judge Richard Bond.

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Weapons and ammunition supplied by Paul Edmonds were linked to more than 100 crimes (West Midlands Police/PA)

Sentencing “lynchpin” Edmunds, the judge praised the police’s painstaking work in continuing to trace hundreds of firearms still unaccounted for.

While 17 pistols criminally-linked to Edmunds, 66, have been taken out of circulation, police said of the 280 guns imported between 2009 and 2015, the whereabouts of 207 remain a mystery.

Meanwhile, officers have also recovered about 1,000 of his hand-crafted rounds from crime scenes, but shells are “still coming in” more than two years after Edmunds’ arrest.

At the sentencing hearing at Birmingham Crown Court on Thursday, the judge heard 13 guns and ammunition had been recovered since the October retrial – the latest in Birmingham on November 6.

The tendrils of the licensed firearms dealer’s cottage-based manufacturing operation spread nationwide, linking his work to crime scenes in the West Midlands, London, Greater Manchester, Nottinghamshire, South Yorkshire, Leicestershire, Warwickshire, West Yorkshire and Derbyshire.

“Cavalier” Edmunds, a registered gun dealer, also side-stepped UK laws on importing old guns for which ammunition was commercially available, by falsely declaring to the authorities in customs paperwork they were obsolete “antiques”.

The guns, whose importation is subject to complex rules, were not checked in any detail at UK customs.

Self-confessed “ammunition freak” Edmunds made 37 trips to the United States, checking the guns into airlines’ holds as “antiques and curiosities”.

Many of the guns were antique revolvers but he also imported Colt pistols from the 1950s following trips to Chicago, Las Vegas and Denver.

Six French-made St Etienne revolvers seized at crime scenes were also linked to Edmunds.

The gun-buff effectively exploited his legal dealer status and “encyclopaedic” knowledge of weapons for years, falsifying records and avoiding detailed border checks.

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Edmunds was a self-confessed "ammunition freak" (West Midlands Police)

Detectives pointed out one weapon, imported by Edmunds from the United States and found at a crime scene, was “25 days from Tulsa” to Handsworth, Birmingham.

Another weapon imported on November 14, 2013, was used five weeks later in the Boxing Day murder-shooting at the Avalon nightclub in London.

Four of Edmunds’ bullets were recovered from the victim’s body.

Firearms certificate holder Edmunds, from Bristol Road, Hardwicke, Gloucestershire, machine-tooled cartridges in out-of-date calibres bringing guns which were out of use back into circulation.

All those guns could be classed as antiques, because they were more than 100 years old and had ammunition no longer commercially available.

Edmunds sold the weapons and cartridges to middleman and fellow gun-nut Mohinder Surdhar, who fenced them on to a crime gang armourer, Sundish Nazran.

But ballistics experts at the National Ballistics Intelligence Service found the same microscopic markings on each of the slugs, confirming there was a single ammunition-maker.

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