Belfast Telegraph

West Belfast shooting 'linked to feud', court hears

A shooting in west Belfast is linked to a feud between factions in the area, the High Court heard today.

A judge was also told that a man accused of having the sawn-off shotgun suspected of wounding the victim claimed he bought it because his life was in danger.

Details emerged as Michael Claxton was refused bail on charges connected to the incident near his home in the Glasvey Drive area of Dunmurry.

His mother's partner was shot in the leg late on February 23.

Claxton, 23, faces charges of possessing a firearm and quantity of ammunition in suspicious circumstances.

The court heard he phoned police to report the shooting, and to claim his own home was coming under fire.

Conor Maguire, prosecuting, said two men were then arrested at a nearby house on suspicion of attempted murder.

One of those suspects alleged Claxton had been involved in removing the weapon before brandishing it out a window of his home, the barrister disclosed.

Searches of the Glasvey Drive property led to the sawn-off shotgun, eight cartridges and further ammunition for an air rifle being discovered in the accused's bedroom, Mr Justice Treacy was told.

Gloves, a balaclava and four mobile phones were also seized from his house, which bore no signs of damage. 

Although forensic tests are continuing, police believe the weapon was used in the shooting.

In a statement during interviews Claxton claimed: "I needed it to protect myself, they were going to kill me. I bought it last night from the Travellers."

Opposing bail, Mr Maguire said there was ongoing "bad blood" between the accused and one of those detained on suspicion of attempted murder.

"Police have significant concerns that there's a feud in the local area between sets of individuals," he told the court.

"Tensions in that particular area are high, and there's a potential for further violence."

Questioned about the "mixed picture" emerging from the alleged circumstances, Mr Maguire was unable to provide a definitive explanation at this stage.

"Police have their views in respect of what might have happened during the course of this incident, but it's not at a point where it can be evidenced," he replied.

Defence counsel Mark Farrell stressed that Claxton is not alleged to have been involved in the attempted murder.

Explaining why his client had a sawn-off shotgun, Mr Farrell told the judge: "He feared his life was in danger."

Refusing Claxton's bid to get out of custody, Mr Justice Treacy said: "In the context of an ongoing feud and the attack on his mother's partner this is not a suitable case to release the applicant on bail."

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