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Antrim man Stewart bought stun gun 'for own protection'

By Nevin Farrell

A Ballymena man caught with a stun gun disguised as a torch told police he bought it online for his own protection in case people "jumped at him in dark alleys" because he was under threat from paramilitaries.

Thomas Stewart (30) from the Harryville area of the town, appeared at Ballymena Magistrates Court yesterday for sentencing in connection with having the device in June last year. A prosecutor said police found the stun gun, which could also be used as a torch, at Stewart's home and it was in working order.

He said Stewart told police he bought it online for his own protection but thought it was an imitation device.

The lawyer said the defendant said he would never have used it but had it as he was under threat in case people "jumped at him in dark alleys".

Defence barrister Stephen Law said his client had formerly been a drug user and had been under threat from local paramilitaries who were "trying to inflict some punishment upon him". He said the defendant is now drug and alcohol-free after getting help for his addictions and is working and doing a forklift truck driving course.

Fining Stewart £250 on a charge of possessing a prohibited weapon, District Judge Peter King said a pre-sentence report was "extremely positive".

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