Loyalist feud probe officers seized guns ready for use in Carrick, High Court hears
Guns loaded with hollowed-out bullet tips seized by police investigating a loyalist paramilitary feud were ready for immediate use, the High Court heard today.
Prosecutors said two semi-automatic pistols were recovered in a car in Carrickfergus, Co Antrim along with a can of petrol to be used to torch the vehicle afterwards.
Details emerged as bail was granted to a 39-year-old car salesman alleged to be a senior UDA figure in the area.
Clifford Irons, of Castlemara Drive in the town, must provide a £15,000 cash surety as part of his release conditions, a judge ordered.
He faces a single charge of possessing a firearm and ammunition with intent to endanger life.
Irons was arrested after the guns were discovered in a Vauxhall Vectra at Buskin Place in Carrickfergus on October 28.
The car had been parked in a communal area close to the home of Irons' mother.
Crown counsel said searches of the vehicle uncovered two pistols with hollowed-out bullets in the chambers and other ammunition concealed in a glove and cloth bag.
A half-full five litre can of fuel was found in the boot.
"It's believed the loaded firearms were for immediate use... and the canister of petrol was to be used to set the vehicle alight after the incident, " the prosecutor said.
It was disclosed in court that the Vauxhall car had been advertised and sold on Gumtree on October 4.
The prosecution claim that a phone linked to Irons called the seller 20 seconds before a co-accused allegedly involved in the purchase also made a call.
Police searched the defendant's home and seized mobiles, balaclavas, gloves and a note containing hand-written notes allegedly outlining plans for using the guns, the court heard.
Opposing bail, the prosecution barrister said: "It's the police assessment that Mr Irons is a senior figure within the South East Antrim UDA."
She also alleged that he has played a "pivotal role" in the ongoing loyalist feud in the Castlemara estate.
Irons has not been charged with membership of any illegal organisations.
A detective involved in the investigation confirmed that forensic tests have so far failed to establish any link between Irons and the car or guns.
Defence counsel Dennis Boyd, instructed by Reavey Solicitors, insisted; "There's no fingerprints of the applicant on anything."
Mr Boyd also pointed out that two co-accused possibly connected to the Vectra were released after police questioning.
Granting bail, Mr Justice Burgess banned Irons from contacting the other men allegedly involved.
He also ordered the defendant's father to put up a £15,000 cash surety to secure his release from custody.