Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 21 October 2014

Police officer had 15 guns too many, trial hears

Firearms trial: PSNI officer Ryan McNeill

A PSNI officer has gone on trial accused of possessing too many firearms.

Ryan McNeill (28) has certificates to legally hold 14 separate firearms, but a Crown lawyer said that when police raided his home two years ago he had 15 other items not listed on his firearms certificates.

Crown lawyer Neil Connor said that McNeill, whose address was given as Limavady PSNI station, was a known firearms enthusiast and collector, and as such faced a “distinct set of charges”.

He added that while police do not suspect that the Co Antrim man had any of the weapons for illicit purposes, a number were prohibited, while others were not covered by any firearms certificates already held by the constable.

In all McNeill, who has been supended since since the raid on his home on December 6, 2008, denies 15 offences. They include possessing a handgun, a revolver, a sub machine-gun and a shotgun without the appropriate certificate, possessing ammunition and possessing a prohibited weapon.

The jury at Antrim Crown Court, sitting in Coleraine, heard that during interview McNeill said he believed he was allowed to be in possession of a number of these items as he also worked part-time for a firearms dealer.

Among the guns seized were several blank-firing weapons which firearms expert Dr John McLaughlin classed as prohibited weapons.

The senior scientific officer with the Northern Ireland Forensic Science Service revealed that although they could not fire live ammunition, they were “forward venting”, meaning they could be used to fire cartridges filled with gas such as CS gas or mace.

The trial, expected to last until next week, continues.

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