Man jailed after guns and ammo found in car
A man who claimed he was transporting guns and ammunition in a car's spare wheel to pay off a drug debt has been jailed.
Paul McDade was stopped by police in September 2011 driving along the A1 dual carriageway from Newry to Belfast.
PSNI officers searched his car and found two reactivated Makarov pistols and two loaded magazines containing 14 rounds of 9mm ammunition in the spare wheel which didn't fit the black BMW car.
Sentencing 53-year-old McDade, Judge Corinne Philpott QC said she didn't believe that he was under duress or doing it to pay off a drug debt.
Prosecuting counsel Philip Henry said a search of McDade's phone revealed a text message under the name of 'Mate' which talked of McDade being given "the wrong one by mistake'' and he needed it back or "he would be in trouble''.
McDade, of Sheridan Street, Town Parks, Belfast, told police in a written statement during interview that he didn't know what was in the spare tyre and had only collected it from a car park to pay off a drug debt, as he was addicted to cannabis.
The court also heard that there was no forensic or DNA evidence to suggest he had handled the guns or ammunition.
Mr Henry also revealed that the defendant had a criminal record, including a conviction in 1979 for a similar offence of possession of a firearm in suspicious circumstances.
In McDade's defence, it was said that "pressure'' was applied to McDade to become a "stooge'' or a "mule'', and he was under duress to collect the weapons and ammunition to pay off his drug debts.
Judge Philpott told him that he would serve 18 months of a four-year sentence in custody with the remaining further two-and-a-half years to be spent on licence following his release.