• Police reveal gun that killed Alistair Wilson as rare 1920s 'ladies' pistol
• Police ask anyone with knowledge of such a weapon to come forward
• Mr Wilson shot at close range by man who delivered a letter to his house
"It is a very old weapon. It may have been a trophy of war brought back during World War II. We are also checking all UK police forces and further afield to see if the pistol - which we have the serial number of - has ever been legitimately held" - Detective Chief Inspector MacPhee
Story in full THE gun used to kill the Nairn banker Alistair Wilson on his doorstep was a "ladies" gun from Germany that was more than 70 years old, police have revealed.
Detectives yesterday released details of the murder weapon for the first time since Mr Wilson was gunned down outside his house in Crescent Road on 28 November last year. Northern Constabulary has yet to establish the killer’s identity or a motive for the shooting.
The force produced a replica of the .25 calibre German-made handgun and launched an appeal for information from anyone who has owned or seen this type of pistol.
Mr Wilson, 36, was shot at close range by a man who had called at his house and asked for him by name. The father-of-two was buried only last week in the church in Fort William where he was married.
The weapon, measuring just 4.5 inches long and 3.5 inches high, was discovered by workmen cleaning drains in Nairn ten days after the killing.
It was made between 1922 and 1930 by the company CG Haenel Waffen of Suhl in what was previously East Germany. Commonly known as a pocket or waistcoat pistol, and sometimes referred to as a "ladies" gun, it was mass-produced and it is believed about 40,000 were made and exported throughout Europe.
The factory where it was made was taken over by Russian forces in 1945 and no longer makes weapons.
The gun has CG Haenel Suhl-Schmeisser Patent embossed on the side of the barrel and an HS monogram on the grips. The bullets used were made by Sellier and Bellot from Vlasim in the Czech Republic.
Detective Chief Inspector Peter MacPhee, who is leading the murder hunt, said: "If anyone has possessed or seen a pistol of this type at any time or may have knowledge of the ammunition, I would ask them to contact me."
He added: "Its a small calibre weapon and for any use of the gun you have to be close-up. Because of its size and the short nature of the barrel, they are notoriously inaccurate at any distance."
DCI MacPhee, who will make a new appeal on the BBC Crimewatch programme tonight, said the gun could have arrived in the UK a number of ways - brought back as a war trophy by soldiers, probably after the Second World War, legally imported prior to 1997 when a ban on handguns was introduced, or it could have been smuggled into the country.
He said: "It is a very old weapon. It may have been a trophy of war brought back during World War II. We are also checking all UK police forces and further afield to see if the pistol - which we have the serial number of - has ever been legitimately held."
A retired police weapons expert, who asked not to be named, said the detectives have a difficult task ahead tracing the gun’s history: "If it was brought into the country legally it should be able to be traced. But a lot of dealers’ records will not go that far back, that is the problem."
Mr Wilson was shot as he and his wife were putting their two young children to bed.
The gunman, a stocky man aged 35-40 and wearing a baseball cap, called at the house and spoke initially to Mr Wilson’s wife, Veronica, and asked for her husband by name. The killer then handed an envelope to Mr Wilson, who took it back inside briefly before returning to the door where he was gunned down. He died a short time later.
It has been revealed that Mr Wilson told his wife moments before the shooting that he did not know the caller. Police have not ruled out the possibility that he was the victim of mistaken identity.
Mr Wilson has been described as a quiet family man and his brutal killing is a continuing mystery.
His personal and professional life have been thoroughly investigated but have produced no leads.