Two Oldham men have been sentenced to a combined 20 years in prison after converting blank-firing pistols into lethal weapons and distributing them to criminals in the region.

Corey Atkinson, of Farm Road, and Mark McNamara, of Bankfield Drive were sentenced to 12 years and eight years in prison respectively at Minshell Street Crown Court on November 30.

This came after they had both pleaded guilty to conspiracy to sell or transfer firearms and ammunition and conspiracy to convert imitation firearms into prohibited weapons.

The two men were arrested following Operation Lyra, which was set up to investigate the two men who were illegally converting Retay weapons into deadly guns. Retays are legal semi-automatic blank firing pistols that have a similar appearance to illegal firearms and are available online.

In October 2020, police carried out a search of Atkinson's home address where they found six converted guns, 46 modified bullets, 38 other bullets, sawn off metal tubes and a cutting disc. Those pistols accounted for six of the 10 discovered throughout the operation, with the other four linked through forensics and intelligence.

It was later found that McNamara, 29, had arranged and purchased a number of the Retay weapons on behalf of Atkinson, 26, with both men involved in test firing them.

The Oldham Times: One of the firearms that was seized at Atkinson's address (Image: GMP).One of the firearms that was seized at Atkinson's address (Image: GMP).

McNamara's house was also raided in October 2020, with officers finding a black pistol hidden in the rear of the garden and six loose rounds.

Detective superintendent Chris Mossop, who led the investigation, said: "Atkinson was clearly an illegal converter with the help of McNamara - the pair were working together to turn Retay guns into live firing deadly weapons where they could end up in the hands of criminals and ultimately cost someone's life.

"These two men are two more put behind bars and therefore a gap in the supply chain for criminals."

In the UK, approximately 130 converted Retays have been recovered in 2021, with a total of 18 seized by GMP across Greater Manchester.

The Oldham Times: Some of the recovered bullets (Image: GMP).Some of the recovered bullets (Image: GMP).

Alan Bates, GMP's firearms and licensing manager, said: "The issue around Retay guns is of growing concern not only in our region, but across the country and we're working alongside partners and other law enforcement agencies to crackdown on those creating lethal weapons and putting lives at risk.

"Registered firearms dealers and other retailers are asked to contact us with any unusual transactions or suspicious activity - even the smallest bit of information could be a huge step and ultimately save a life."

To report any concerns about firearms activity, report it to police online at or via 101. Always call 999 in an emergency.

Alternatively, call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

The Oldham Times: A firearm recovered at McNamara's address (Image: GMP).A firearm recovered at McNamara's address (Image: GMP).