An army bomb squad was called in after what is suspected to be a specialist gun factory was discovered in Merton. 

Evan Girdlestone, from Colliers Wood, was arrested on Croydon on Thursday (May 18) after the National Crime Agency (NCA) recovered what is believed to be a functioning converted weapon and magazines filled with 9mm ammunition in 47-year-old Girdlestone’s car. 

Officers searched an industrial unit linked to him in the Lombard Road area of Merton.

Inside they found a specialist factory for converting blank-firing guns into lethal weapons using 3D printed parts, the NCA said. 

The factory included an array of tools and machinery, including parts used in the manufacture of weapons and ammo, blank firers ready to be converted and three potentially functioning converted weapons. 

They also found more than 100 rounds of live ammunition and around 1000 rounds of blank firing ammunition ready to be converted. 

Wimbledon Times: The gun found in Girdlestone's carThe gun found in Girdlestone's car (Image: NCA)

Several 3D printing machines suspected of being used to print component parts were also found, the NCA said. 

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

The weapons were seized and are being analysed by forensic experts. Girdlestone was charged with offences under the Firearms Act. 

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.”