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Last Updated: Monday, 21 April, 2003, 11:18 GMT 12:18 UK
Gun windfall for pensioner
The national amnesty started on 31 March

A pensioner in north-east England is set to become an unexpected beneficiary of the national firearms amnesty, after handing in a rare pistol.

The woman from County Durham, who has not been named, gave up the World War I family heirloom during the current amnesty, after it had been forgotten in her home for 50 years.

Officers have now told her the pistol is a rare .455 Webley & Scott Mark 1, one of only 50 originally made in 1913 for the Royal Horse Artillery.

The first manufactured batch of this weapon was only 2,500 pistols, with many of them going to the Royal Navy.

They were later used by pilots in the Royal Flying Corps during World War I.

Bullets can no longer be bought for the weapon, and the manufacturer now concentrates on making airguns.

Gun for sale

Inspector Roy Smith, of the force's operations division, said: "We expect there will be national and even international interest when it is finally offered for sale."

The last Webley & Scott Mark 1 to reach the market sold for more than 1,000.

Officers were able to track the woman down and give back the weapon, which she now intends to sell to a museum or collector.

The pistol was among 105 weapons and 2,300 rounds of ammunition handed over in County Durham under the national firearms amnesty, which began on 31 March.


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