Less than ten percent of the UK’s largest haul of illegal weapons, discovered in a quiet Suffolk village, has been destroyed, police have revealed.
In April 2014 hundreds of firearms were unearthed at the home of Wyverstone parish chairman James Arnold after police were called to reports of an assault at the property.
Arnold, who was legally registered to own 17 firearms at his home, was arrested and a major search of the property began.
By the end of the investigation, later called Operation Cannington, a total of 463 firearms had been found at Arnold’s home on Potash Way – including machine guns, rifles, handguns, shaped charges and even an anti-tank rocket launcher.
On Wednesday April 20 this year, police officers began the massive job of chopping up the collection and invited the media to cover the start of the process.
However, it has now been revealed that the following day officers ceased destroying the guns as they had received a legal notice challenging the destruction from the estate of James Arnold.
Detective Superintendent Steve Mattin, senior investigating officer for Operation Cannington, said the destruction would remain on hold until the legal issues had been dealt with.
He said: “The process of destroying over 400 illegally held weapons, which were seized at the home of the late James Arnold in Wyverstone, commenced on 20 April 2016.
“However, this was halted the following day (April 21), after Suffolk Police were contacted by the solicitors representing the estate of James Arnold challenging the destruction.
“Suffolk Constabulary has responded to this challenge and are currently awaiting a reply.
“Less than 10 percent of the weapons had been destroyed at that point and the process will remain on hold until the legal matter has been resolved.”