SERIOUS safety concerns have been raised following the discovery of a stash of ammunition in Albert Dryden’s family home – more than 27 years after he murdered a planning officer.

The weapons-obsessed killer’s house has laid empty since his arrest in 1991 for the shooting of planning officer Harry Collinson, who was sent to oversee the demolition of an illegally-built bungalow.

Dryden, who died last month in a care home after spending 26 years in prison, was an avid collector of bullets and military memorabilia and used to make his own rockets.

The discovery of the ammunition at his mid-terrace house in a residential estate, near Consett, sparked a major operation with the bomb disposal teams at the property as well as the town’s police station.

One woman, who lives yards away on Priestman Avenue in The Grove, said: “It is a bit daunting to think we have been living next door to whatever was found for years.

“It is a bit scary. I assumed that would have all been cleared at the time he went to prison, unless they just have not done a very good job.

“They evacuated Consett Police Station but we were not asked to leave our houses.”

It is understood Dryden hoped to live there if he ever got out of prison, but was too unwell when he was released on compassionate grounds last October.

Bullets were found by Dryden’s relatives at the weekend as they cleared the house so it can be sold following his death aged 78 in a County Durham care home last month.

Another neighbour, who lives nearby, said: “I don’t know how they could find anything else because when he got arrested they came down and went through that place like a dose of salts.

“They should have done a thorough job the first time though. It is very weird.”

Dryden shot and killed Mr Collinson, 46, as he tried to serve a demolition notice for an illegal bungalow he had built at Butsfield, just off the A68 to the south of Consett.

He also shot a television reporter and a policeman in front of reporters, photographers and a camera crew who were covering the story for regional media outlets.

Durham County Councillor Alex Watson, who knew Dryden, and was leader of Derwentside District Council, which issued the order to demolish the bungalow, has called on Durham Constabulary to explain why the material has only just been found.

He said: “It was his property and he intended to return to it.

“When anybody has got explosives in the house they are posing a danger. It is beyond belief. I find it staggering.

“What if there had been a fire in those houses? Anything could have happened.

“They really should have made sure the house was safe from explosives, but they have not done that. Any search could not have been thorough."

A spokeswoman for Durham Constabulary said experts from the Army’s bomb disposal unit took the ammunition to a remote location to be safely destroyed in a controlled detonation.

She said: “We were alerted to a quantity of ammunition when it was brought into Consett Police Station. This was contained and subsequently destroyed.

“As a precautionary measure we searched a nearby property but nothing further was recovered.

“We would like to thank the member of the public for handing the ammunition in.

“We would encourage anyone else who finds anything like this to call 999 immediately.

“The professionalism of our officers and bomb disposal experts ensured that the situation in Consett was dealt with in a calm and efficient manner and public safety remained our priority throughout.”