"He was actually making for his carpentry box, and inside he had a revolver. There was a struggle and officers overpowered him. He would not have been taken alive if he had known we were on to him."
Detective Chief Inspector Norman McKinlay, BBC News Online, 4 April, 2011
As a violent and dangerous criminal, Sweeney is arrested by police a number of times.
The breakthrough comes in March 2001, when police arrest Sweeney for the attempted murder of Delia Balmer while he is at work on a building site near the Old Bailey. He is surrounded by armed officers before he can reach for a knife hidden in his waistband. In his work locker, police find a loaded 9mm Luger pistol.
At his home police find weapons including sawn-off shotguns, a machete and a garrotte made with bamboo and wire. There is also a holdall with a ‘killer’s kitbag’ of a saw, bow knife, Stanley knife, axe head, orange rubber gloves and rolls of tape.
Detectives also discover a huge haul of artwork: violent and macabre in its nature, including over 300 drawings and poems showing him chopping up bodies and name checking his victims: Melissa, Delia and Paula, amongst others. On the back of one of his wood carvings, surrounded by kisses are the words: “inspired by and dedicated especially to Delia. May you die in pain.”