A former nurse has been jailed for seven years after a raid at her home found the biggest haul of ammunition and explosives in West Midlands Police history.
Joanne Morris had seven sticks of plastic explosives and a home-made bomb when police swooped on her home in Station Street, Bloxwich on November 14 last year.
During a three-and-a-half day search of the property officers also seized 1,990 rounds of live ammunition, a dismantled 12-bore shotgun and 15 detonators.
Residents, local businesses and Bloxwich police station nearby were evacuated as the incredible haul was uncovered.
Chemical warfare protection suits and ration packs were also discovered at the address along with two samurai swords, a harpoon and a number of air pistols.
Police said it looked like she was preparing for ‘a World War 3 Doomsday scenario’.
On the second day of the search bomb-disposal experts from the Army were called in to conduct a controlled explosion on five detonators found buried in a flowerbed in the back garden.
At Wolverhampton Crown Court yesterday the 48-year-old, also a former soldier, was handed a seven-year prison sentence after Judge John Warner said she had ‘a long-standing obsession with weapons’.
Morris, who is transgender and was a man known as Paul Morris at the time of the raid worked as a nurse at New Cross Hospital in Wolverhampton and an ambulance controller in Brierley Hill.
Police enacted a dawn raid on the property after border agency staff intercepted a parcel from the USA containing gun parts addressed to her.
The court was told a search – involving more than 100 officers and costing £50,000 – revealed the arms cache, much of it stored away in a workshop and utility room.
Mr Hugh O’Brien Quinn, prosecuting, said: “There was a huge quantity of ammunition, plastic explosives and other weapons stored insecurely in the property. Morris was not deemed suitable to be in possession of any of it. She was obsessed with weapons.”
Morris had accumulated the large stash of ammunition over 20 years. She claimed to have held onto a collection of 476 deadly hollow-point cartridges from her time as a member of the Charter Gun Club in Wales, while the explosives and detonators had remained in her possession from her time in the army. Mr O’Brien Quinn continued: “The bullets are designed to explode on impact. Instead of handing the ammunition back to the gun club she took it home.”
Morris served with the Royal Engineers for 10 years. During her tenure she was a man based at barracks in Wiltshire and saw service in the Falklands before being discharged in 1992. During this time she had a firearms licence, but this was withdrawn in April 1993 after she accidentally shot her wife in the leg while cleaning a revolver in the couple’s bedroom. Morris received a conditional discharge for the offence, but continued to stockpile ammunition.
The court was told that on the second day of the search officers found what they thought was a grenade, which turned out to be a legal and relatively harmless smoke grenade. But during a search of a flowerbed, 15 detonators, seven sticks of PD4 plastic explosives, 16 metres of safety fuse and a firing device were unearthed. This led to an evacuation of the area while bomb disposal experts carried out as series of explosions. Mr O’Brien Quinn said: “If all seven sticks of the PD4 were initiated the number of casualties and damage to buildings would have been substantial.”
Morris joined the Territorial Army after leaving the regular army, before she was took a position as a nurse at New Cross Hospital in Wolverhampton in 2003. She left the job after she was attacked by a patient in 2009 and received a substantial compensation pay-out and was working at the Brierley Hill ambulance control centre at the time of her arrest.
Mr Brian Dean, defending, said the ammunition stored by Morris was unusable, while the parts of the shotgun recovered by police were damaged beyond repair. “There was no weapon in her possession capable of discharging any of the rounds,” he said.
“She is emotionally intelligent and coherent, not hostile or aggressive in any way. She has long held a powerful desire to live her life as a woman and had led a blameless life. She is a gentle soul and her obsession has not and is never likely to cause anyone any harm.”
Morris pleaded guilty to four counts of possessing an explosive substance, four counts of unlawful possession of ammunition, possessing a shotgun and making an explosive substance.
Decked out in a grey business suit and blouse, with shoulder length greying, mousey-brown hair and glasses, she showed no emotion as she was sentenced. Ordering her to serve her term in a male jail, the judge told her: “I accept transgender issues will have had a profound effect on your life, but they are wholly unconnected to your culpability for the crimes."