Belfast Telegraph

Epileptic man clears first stage in court battle over gun licence

An epileptic man cleared the first stage today in his High Court battle over having his gun licence revoked.

The 38-year-old security guard from Co Derry lost his firearms licence amid concerns about his medical condition and whether or not he properly declared it.

The man, who also has limited literacy skills, is challenging Justice Minister David Ford's decision to reject an appeal against the police withdrawing his permit.

A judge granted him leave to seek a judicial review and banned publication of his name after being told the man's father also keeps guns at the family home.

The court heard how he held a licence for three years before being informed of the revocation by the PSNI's Firearms and Explosives Branch in November 2010.

According to his barrister, Wayne Atchison, the move followed an anonymous and malicious letter to police questioning the man's health.

Mr Atchison argued that his client's epilepsy is under full control and regulated by medicine.

He told the court the letter to police has never been disclosed.

Dealing with the allegation that the man knowingly or recklessly misstated his condition, Mr Atchison said: "He made the case that he has been suffering from a high degree of illiteracy and needed help in filling in the forms."

It was argued that the Minister took his decision too quickly, failing to consider a subsequent medial report which set out how the epilepsy is being controlled.

Mr Atchison also pointed out how epileptic Paralympians were able to use guns in shooting events at the 2012 Games.

Adrian Colmer, responding for the Minister, stressed the need to ensure licences are only given to this fit to use guns.

He added that the forms should have been properly filled in, even if a friend was carrying out the paperwork.

Following submissions Mr Justice Weir agreed to grant leave to seek a judicial review, citing the low threshold of establishing an arguable case.

But he added: "The applicant hasn't helped himself by the way in which he set about getting the form filled in."

A full judicial review hearing is expected to take place later in the year.

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