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'Eccentric inventor' admits he made guns

By Ashleigh McDonald

Published 01/10/2016

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An "eccentric inventor" with a "fascination for firearms" appeared in court yesterday on charges arising from a search of his east Belfast home

An "eccentric inventor" with a "fascination for firearms" appeared in court yesterday on charges arising from a search of his east Belfast home.

David Cunningham - who is blind in one eye, almost blind in the other and partially deaf - admitted 12 firearms offences, including discharging one of his home-made guns into the sea at Crawfordsburn.

Belfast Crown Court heard that the 64-year old former mechanic watched videos on the internet about making weapons before using household items such as torches, files and an iPhone box to make his own.

The court also heard that Cunningham had no links to terrorism or paramilitaries.

When his Castlereagh Parade home was searched on May 11 last year police located a number of weapons and ammunition, some hidden under floorboards.

They included nine zip guns, an improvised shotgun, a modified revolver and four stun guns.

Crown barrister Robin Steer said police called at Cunningham's home and he was searched. Three bullets were found in his trouser pocket and he was wearing a zip gun around his neck on a piece of cord. Once arrested Cunningham said: "I wasn't going to do anyone any harm. I am not a terrorist or anything like that."

Mr Steer told judge Geoffrey Miller QC that the Crown accepted Cunningham had a "fascination with firearms".

He said that while in custody the Belfast man admitted firing shots from one of the firearms into the sea at Crawfordsburn, and discharging a shot in a residential area.

Cunningham subsequently pleaded guilty to 12 offences, including multiple charges of possessing firearms and ammunition in suspicious circumstances.

Branding Cunningham an "eccentric inventor" with "no criminal intentions", Mr Steer said the defendant had no history of possessing firearms and was "not involved with paramilitaries or paramilitary activity."

Defence barrister Denis Boyd said his client was a loner who made a lot of the weapons out of household items.

His criminality arose after he viewed an online site detailing how to make firearms, and he experimented using a vice, file and drill.

Judge Miller said he would pass sentence next Thursday.

Belfast Telegraph

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