26-year-old Tyrone Cox, a teaching assistant from Balmoral Road, EN3, was the key player in a network that legally bought blank firing starter pistols and converted them in to live firing weapons, before selling them on.
He was yesterday (16 June) sentenced to 30 months in prison. His accomplice 22-year-old Lewis Monk, 22, unemployed, from Chadwell Avenue, EN8 was sentenced to 25 months.
The pair were caught following a proactive operation by the Metropolitan Police Service’s Projects Team, part of the Serious and Organised Crime Command.
Detectives began their operation in September 2009 after receiving intelligence that Cox was actively converting and supplying Olympic 0.38 blank firing revolvers. At the time of the pair’s arrest, these weapons could be bought legally within the UK. However, since June 4, the weapon has been prohibited under Section 5 of the Firearms Act 1968 and possessing it leads to a mandatory prison sentence of five years.
Further investigation revealed that Cox was leading a double life. During the week he worked as a teaching assistant at a primary school in Islington, helping teach three to five-year-olds. However, in his spare time, he used his skills as a trained metal-worker to manufacture lethal weapons from blank firers. Cox enlisted the help of Lewis Monk to distribute the converted weapons.
On 21 December 2009, officers watched as Monk collected Cox and drove him to a sports shop in Enfield where they bought four Olympic 0.38s and 50 rounds of blank-firing ammunition.
The pair took the Olympics back to 14 Barclay Road, N18, where they went to the back of the property and stayed there for several hours.
Later that day, officers from the Projects Team and specialist firearms officers from CO19 carried out a firearms warrant on the property. Their searches revealed a garden shed that had been converted in to a crude firearms workshop. The workshop contained a large brace drill, various drill bits, spray cans and other tools.
The shed also contained four Olympic 0.38 firearms, all converted, and 15 rounds of converted ammunition. The weapons, which until they were made illegal were only available to buy in the UK in pink and orange, had been sprayed with black paint and were hanging up to dry. The guns would have been sprayed to enhance the credibility of the weapon and thus increase its street value.
There were eight empty Olympic 0.38 boxes in the workshop indicating that another four firearms had already been converted.
Cox and Monk were arrested, charged with firearms offences and remanded in custody.
On 7 May 2010, Cox and Monk both pleaded guilty to two counts;
– possession and distribution of firearms and ammunition
– conspiracy to convert firearms and ammunition at Wood Green Crown Court
Detective Chief Inspector Clive Stevens from the Serious and Organised Crime Command said:
"It is quite clear from these prosecutions that we have uncovered and dismantled what has been a significant firearm distribution network whose members had no consideration for the devastation their gun hoard could cause.
"This operation has resulted in converted guns and ammunition being taken out of circulation and has potentially prevented a number of serious injuries or even deaths occurring on the streets of London.
"It is impossible to overestimate the misery and fear these weapons could have brought if they had got into the hands of those seeking to use them.
"These seizures demonstrate the Serious Crime Directorate’s determination to tackle those who are responsible for manufacturing and supplying guns."