Two men caught with a loaded revolver in a car three years ago have been convicted of having the gun under suspicious circumstances.
But Thomas Rooney (23), from Glasvey Close, and Cathal Francais Donal Kerr (21), from Gardenmore Road in Dunmurry, were acquitted of possessing the .38 revolver with intent to endanger life or cause serious injury to property.
A third man, Paul Shaw (36), from Clondarragh Street, Belfast, arrested with them was cleared of all charges after Belfast Crown Court Judge Gordon Kerr QC, ruled he could not be satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt as to his guilt.
The trio were arrested on March 9, 2010 after police stopped and searched a black Volvo car on the Stewartstown Road in west Belfast, and found the loaded .38 revolver in the rear passenger side footwell. Rooney was the driver, Kerr was sitting directly behind him, while Shaw was beside him.
While Shaw was freed, Rooney and Kerr were released on continuing bail before sentencing next month after Judge Kerr ruled given the vintage of the case he could take the unusual step on the absolute understanding it was not to be taken as an indication of the sentence.
During their trial the court heard that in police interviews all three men denied knowing anything about the gun with Shaw and Kerr claiming they had only just got a lift in the car owned by Rooney's mother through a motability scheme.
But tests found a mixed profile of Rooney's and Kerr's DNA found on the weapon. The only thing linking Shaw was his presence in the car. Judge Kerr in his ruling before the Diplock court, said that despite any inference he could draw about his presence in the Volvo, the only "certain evidence against him" was not strong enough to support a conviction.