A man has been jailed after forensic specialists identified his DNA on an improvised firearm found buried in Hampstead Heath.
On Friday, 16 August, Dominic Van Allen, 46 (10.08.73) of no fixed abode was jailed for five years for one count of possessing a disguised prohibited firearm and one count of possessing a prohibited firearm (a component part), both contrary to section 5 (1) (aba) of the Firearms Act.
Blackfriars Crown Court heard how officers from Hampstead Heath Constabulary, on patrol in the park, found a concealed encampment on 11 November 2018 in which there was a hide containing what appeared to be a pipe bomb. A bullet was also discovered in the undergrowth.
Specialist explosives officers from the Met Police attended the scene to make it safe. The ‘pipe bomb’, a smaller piece of pipe and a bullet were taken to a lab to be analysed.
It was subsequently established the ‘pipe bomb’ was in fact an improvised gun with an inbuilt silencer, capable of firing bullets similar to that found in the undergrowth. The smaller piece of pipe recovered from the scene was established to be a component part that would enable the user to change the calibre of bullets which could be fired.
The bullet, which did not contain gun powder, was capable of being used in the gun if adapted with the explosive substance.
Detectives from the Met Police Counter Terrorism Command launched an investigation, retrieving evidence including a jiffy bag with Van Allen’s name found discarded in woods near the hides. On 19 February 2019 they traced and arrested Van Allen on suspicion of firearms offences.
Meanwhile, forensic specialists carrying out analysis of the improvised firearm, found DNA on it that was a match for Van Allen’s, and he was subsequently charged.
He pleaded not guilty to the offences but was found guilty on 16 August following a trial.
Acting Detective Chief Superintendent James Harman of the Met’s Counter Terrorism Command said: “The hides in Hampstead Heath were discovered by diligent parks officers on routine patrol.
“It’s not known what Van Allen’s motives for having the gun were. If not discovered by police, it could have been used in crime and seriously injured or potentially killed someone. His sentence is a reminder to anyone with a gun - improvised or otherwise - that there are severe consequences for having it.
“As always, we would continue to ask the public to remain vigilant and report any suspicious activity to the police.”
Anyone who sees anything suspicious; that looks out of place or feels wrong is urged to report it online at http://www.gov.uk/ACT or by calling police in confidence on 0800 789 321.
In an emergency, always call 999.