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Man had sawn-off shotgun to defend himself, court hears

The shotgun was used earlier to wound his mother's partner

By Alan Erwin

Published 25/10/2016

Gloves, a balaclava and four mobile phones were also recovered.
Gloves, a balaclava and four mobile phones were also recovered.

A man who allegedly brandished a sawn-off shotgun used earlier to wound his mother's partner had it to defend himself, the High Court heard today.

Counsel for Michael Claxton stressed he is not suspected of involvement in the attack in west Belfast linked to a feud between factions in the area.

Police seized the gun, eight cartridges and ammunition for an air rifle during a search of the 23-year-old's home at Glasvey Drive, Dunmurry.

Gloves, a balaclava and four mobile phones were also recovered.

Claxton faces charges of possessing a firearm and quantity of ammunition in suspicious circumstances.

During a renewed application for bail prosecutor David McClean said the accused called police on February 23 to report his mother's partner had been shot in the leg nearby.

Claxton also claimed his own home was coming under fire from the gunman.

Two men were then arrested on suspicion of attempted murder.

One of those suspects alleged Claxton had been involved in removing the gun before brandishing it out a window of his home, the court heard.

Following the subsequent seizure forensic tests are continuing.

But Mr McClean said: "Police believe this shotgun was the weapon used in the shooting."

His account prompted the judge to remark on an apparent peculiar aspect of the case.

Mr Justice Burgess said: "It seems a very strange background - the person accused of having the shotgun is the person who phoned police to come along to his house."

It was previously disclosed that Claxton claimed during interviews that he bought the weapon from Travellers to protect himself amid fears of an attempt on his life.

The court was told of ongoing "bad blood" between the accused and one of those detained on suspicion of attempted murder.

Mounting a fresh application for bail, defence lawyer Mark Farrell insisted: "Police are not saying that this applicant was involved in the shooting (of his mother's partner).

"He accepted having the firearm but said it was for defensive rather than offensive purposes."

Mr Farrell argued that his client should be released from custody due to delays in the case.

But adjourning the application, the judge requested more information before making any decision.

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