Suspect ‘part of dissident gun gang’
A suspected dissident republican gang handed over guns used in an aborted punishment attack to a vulnerable teenager, the High Court has heard.
Prosecutors said one of the weapons jammed as men claiming to be from the Oglaigh na hEireann grouping tried to shoot their victim in west Belfast.
Video footage from a police helicopter has also recorded men leaving the house on St James' Road where the attack happened in July, a judge was told.
Details emerged as one of the accused, Stephen McAllister (41), was refused bail.
McAllister, with an address at Moyard Crescent, Belfast, faces charges of conspiracy to wound and attempting to wound with intent to cause grievous bodily harm, having a firearm with criminal intent, and possessing articles for use in terrorism.
A Crown lawyer said four men entered the house and tried to shoot a man in the legs.
One bullet was fired, inflicting grazing injuries to the victim before the gun jammed, according to the prosecution. Another live round, ejected in an attempt to get the weapon working again, has been seized by investigators, the lawyer said.
He claimed the men then left and headed for the Bog Meadows area where they met a 16-year-old youth and handed over two guns.
The teenager was stopped |by police soon after, while the |alleged gang were detained in a car near the Falls Road, the |court heard. According to the prosecution, a pistol, loaded revolver and ammunition were all recovered.
It was alleged that McAllister is linked to the incident by video, forensic and witness evidence.
The prosecuting barrister added that police have concerns that the 16-year-old co-accused may be vulnerable to intimidation.
A defence lawyer argued that bail should not be denied purely due to the seriousness of the charges.
But refusing the application, Lord Justice Higgins said: “The incident itself is one which has, over the last 30 years, been associated with paramilitary organisations seeking to impose some sort of justice within the communities in which they live.”
He added: “There is clearly a risk of interference with witnesses. I derive that from the circumstances relating to two people who were present — one of whom was shot, and the young vulnerable person who was detained with the firearms.”