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Last Updated: Wednesday, 4 January 2006, 20:49 GMT
Police renew samurai sword calls
Samurai. Picture: Joe Head
Police said sword incidents has decreased during their campaign
Calls for shops to stop selling samurai swords and for anyone who owns such weapons to hand them in have been renewed by Devon and Cornwall Police.

The calls follow the case of Bradley Moran, from Sidmouth, who pleaded guilty to murdering footballer Matthew Stiling last July with a sword.

Some martial arts enthusiasts who own the swords say they are only dangerous when used irresponsibly.

Police said more than 30 shops had agreed to stop selling the swords.

Significant threat

Bradley Moran, 23, from Vale Cottages, Newtown, Sidmouth, pleaded guilty at Exeter Crown Court on Tuesday to murdering 33-year-old Matthew Stiling on 23 July.

Moran had gone home to get two swords and used one of them to kill Mr Stiling.

Devon and Cornwall Police started a campaign last September asking shops to stop selling the weapons and calling on those who owned them to hand them in.

But martial arts enthusiasts said it was not only swords which were dangerous.

Devon martial arts enthusiast Chris Birch: "It's the same as a piece of wood, a baseball bat, or a kitchen knife.

"You have to get very, very close to somebody to use it. Anybody wielding anything would be exactly the same."

Matthew Stiling
Matthew Stiling died after being stabbed by a samurai sword
Devon and Cornwall Police agreed that the threat to the public and police was always when one of the weapons got into the wrong hands.

But the force added that the use of a sword during an incident would mean armed police being sent to deal with it.

Chief Supt Bob Pennington, Head of Force Operations, said: "There have been a number of occasions when we have had to deploy officers armed with firearms and special equipment to deal with these incidents.

"We have gone from averaging one samurai sword incident a week to having one incident involving the weapons during the campaign."

Devon and Cornwall Police said that most of the 38 shops found by the force to be selling the swords have agreed to stop trading in the weapons.


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