Belfast Telegraph

Accused 'forced to keep gun at east Belfast home'

By Alan Erwin

A man accused of having a sawn-off shotgun and nearly 800 rounds of ammunition claimed they was being kept under duress, the High Court has heard.

Robert Thompson was charged after a police unit probing suspected race hate crimes raided his Stracam Corner home in east Belfast last week.

Officers discovered almost 800 rounds of assorted ammunition, a pump-action gun and silencer, prosecutors said.

The police operation was set up to investigate offences which, based on information, were allegedly orchestrated by the UVF.

Thompson (43) faces a single charge of possessing a firearm and ammunition with intent to endanger life. He is not accused of any paramilitary involvement.

Seeking High Court bail, defence barrister Dennis Boyd said: "He has never, on my instructions, been associated with the UVF.

"He tells me he has no problem whatsoever with people of foreign nationalities."

During the hearing it emerged that Thompson claimed any weaponry at his home was being kept there under threat.

Studying the accused as he appeared via a prison video link, Mr Justice Treacy said: "He doesn't look the sort of man when I see him on the screen that would be easily duressed. I know looks can be deceptive."

The judge adjourned the application for a week to allow a computer and phone seized in the same swoop to be examined.

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