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Eccentric who made his own guns given a suspended sentence

By Michael Donnelly

Published 07/10/2016

Defendant: David Cunningham
Defendant: David Cunningham

An "eccentric inventor" with a "fascination for firearms" who made his own personal arsenal of weapons and fired a gun into the sea has walked free from court with a suspended sentence.

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 firearms into the sea at Crawfordsburn.

Belfast Crown Court heard that the 64-year old former mechanic had watched how-to internet videos before making weapons including nine "zip guns", an improvised shotgun, a modified revolver and four stun guns from household items including torches, files and an iPhone box.

Judge Geoffery Miller QC said it was accepted that Cunningham's "motives were benign" and the former engineer was considered as having a low likelihood of re-offending.

Previously, the court heard that when Cunningham's home at Castlereagh Parade, east Belfast, was searched on May 11 2015, police found weapons and ammunition, some under floorboards. All but one of the weapons were capable of being used.

Crown barrister Robin Steer said when police called with Cunningham, he was wearing a zipgun around his neck on a piece of cord and had three bullets in his trouser pocket, but told officers: "I wasn't going to do anyone any harm. I am not a terrorist or anything like that."

Mr Steer added that it was accepted that Cunningham had a "fascination with firearms" and while in custody admitted firing shots into the sea at Crawfordsburn, as well as discharging a shot in a residential area.

Branding Cunningham an "eccentric inventor" with no criminal intentions, Mr Steer said he did not have a history of having firearms or paramilitarism.

Cunningham's two-year jail term was suspended for three years.

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