Back in July, UK armed police launched a dawn raid on a home in Kirby, near Liverpool. On searching the house they discovered a hidden pistol, a Beretta 9000S. A suspect, 24-year old, Adam Bigley, was arrested and has this week been sentenced to seven years in prison for possession of a prohibited firearm.
What makes the pistol that was seized so interesting is that forensic examination revealed it had been used in 19 separate shootings over 7 years. Making it Britain’s most ‘criminally’ used individual firearm.
British firearms law prohibits the general ownership of semi-auto pistols chambered in anything larger than .22LR, so while Bigley couldn’t be directly linked to the series of shootings the Beretta had been used in he could be prosecuted for illegal ownership of a prohibited firearm.
The Beretta 9000S, in production between 2000 and 2006, has the distinction of being Beretta’s first polymer framed pistol. Chambered in 9x19mm with a 12 round magazine the pistol is illegal to own in Britain, unless the owner has a Section Five Firearms Certificate.
Meresyside Police searched Bigley’s parents home following an investigation into a late night shooting in the suburb of Kirkby, during which four rounds were fired into a house from a car. Police discovered the pistol stashed behind a toilet in Bigley’s bathroom, stored next to some shower gel and deodorant cans.
Forensic tests showed that the Beretta’s frame mounted safety had DNA residue from four individuals, including Bigley. The 9000S had had its serial number ground off and was found with a magazine loaded with four rounds. Bigley, with seven previous convictions for no less than 15 offences including public disorder and burglary, admitted to possessing a prohibited firearm but claimed to be looking after it for someone.
In recent years the UK has seen an increase in gun-related crime but while the number of crimes involving handguns in the UK has risen, with 2,685 offences in 2016-17, it remains a fraction of that experienced in the US.
Merseyside Police said they had zero tolerance for criminals using or storing deadly weapons. Detective inspector Elaine Coulter said: “Whether they intend on using them or not, looking after or storing them makes it easier for other criminals to commit serious crime.” Bigley was found guilty at Liverpool Crown Court and sentenced to six years and nine months in prison.