Police tell how firearms conspiracy unravelled after armed officers were scrambled to a South Shields street

Police have told how the case of a troubling firearms conspiracy unravelled after armed officers were scrambled to a South Shields street.

Friday, 21st May 2021, 4:30 pm
Updated Friday, 21st May 2021, 8:03 pm
Picture issued by Northumbria Police

Ciaran Anderson approached Dale Elliott and John Nimmo in April 2020 asking whether they could make him a gun following a disagreement with an ex-girlfriend’s new partner.

But after getting cold feet, Anderson rang police claiming to have heard a firearm discharged in Osborne Avenue, South Shields – where Elliott and Nimmo lived in neighbouring properties.

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Ciaran Anderson

Upon arriving at the scene, officers quickly learned no weapon had been fired – but found two homemade ‘slam guns’ inside Elliott’s home, along with various items which had the capability of being used as working, homemade ammunition.

That sparked a significant police response with armed officers and bomb disposal experts on hand to protect residents and ensure the items were safely seized.

Detective Sergeant Jon Wade, of Northumbria Police, said: “This was an incredibly serious case that initially came into us after Anderson – while falsely purporting to be Nimmo – claimed to have heard a gunshot fired in the middle of a residential area.

“As a result, a significant armed police response attended the scene within a matter of minutes – but it soon transpired that we were dealing with something very different.

John Nimmo

“While no weapon had been fired, a search of Elliott’s address led us to finding weapons including two homemade ‘slam guns’, which were tested and found to be fully working. They are designed to use shotgun ammunition and are capable of causing lethal injury.

“We also located three altered shotgun cartridges which, when cut open, were found to contain various items which had the capability of being used as working, homemade ammunition.

“Clearly, possessing these types of weapons and devices are serious offences and I am pleased that those responsible have now been brought to justice.

“I would like to thank everybody who was involved in this job, from the first officers at the scene and the bomb disposal experts to the detectives who worked tirelessly to ensure these three defendants were brought before the court.”

Picture released by Northumbria Police of a home-made gun

He added: “I would also like to say a big thank you to the public for their ongoing support. We will continue to use every tactic at our disposal to ensure criminals involved in serious or organised crime are identified, arrested and dealt with robustly under the banner of Operation Sentinel.”

Evidence was subsequently found proving both Elliott and Nimmo had access to and had handled the guns.

Anderson, 23, of no fixed abode, who previously admitted conspiracy to transfer a prohibited firearm, was jailed for three years and four months.

Ciaran Anderson

Elliott, 29, of Osborne Avenue, South Shields, who pleaded guilty to possessing a prohibited firearm and ammunition without a firearms certificate, received a custodial sentence of five years and seven months.

Nimmo, 32, of Osborne Avenue, South Shields, pleaded guilty to possessing a prohibited firearm.

He also previously admitted terror-related offences investigated by Counter Terrorism Policing North East.

He was sentenced to a total of 10 years and two months.

Nimmo was on bail in relation to the terror-related offences at the time of his arrest.

In May 2020, following an investigation into right wing terrorism online by Counter Terrorism Policing North East, he pleaded guilty to the encouragement of terrorism, possessing and distributing terrorist materials, stirring up religious and racial hatred and breach of a criminal behaviour order.

Detective Chief Superintendent Martin Snowden, head of Counter Terrorism Policing North East, said: “Offences committed online have as significant an impact as those committed on our streets. There is no place for content that seeks to cause hate, distress and division amongst our communities.”

He added: “We work closely with our local police forces to identify arrest and bring to justice anyone espousing hatred and extremism. We always encourage people to bring any posts, websites or activity of concern to the attention of police via www.gov.uk/ACT.”

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