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County Antrim man allegedly sent threatening gun photo to friend

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A Co Antrim man allegedly sent his lifelong friend a threatening photo of him posing with a gun in a dispute over joining a motorbike club, the High Court heard today.

Police alerted to the social media messages seized a suspected pistol and magazines during searches last month at Emmanuel Hamilton’s home.

But Hamilton claims there was a simple misunderstanding between the pair in discussions about purchasing an imitation weapon.

The 48-year-old, of Mill View in Randalstown, faces a charge of possessing a firearm or imitation firearm with intent to cause fear.

During a bail application a Crown lawyer said the other man complained to police about Facebook messages from Hamilton, who he has known since childhood.

In one the defendant allegedly stated: “It’s really out of my hands after this week.”

It was then claimed that on April 20 Hamilton sent an image of him apparently holding a gun, with the accompanying text: “You think for one minute we are joking.”

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Prosecution counsel told the court: “The complainant said this left him distressed. In his view a serious threat was made to his life.”

A suspected pistol with Sig Sauer branding and accompanying components were recovered when police searched Hamilton’s house on April 27.

During interviews he denied any intent to threaten and said the pistol was a replica collected as part of his hobby.

Pressed for a possible explanation for the incident, a detective said: “The victim is a member of a particular motorcycle club that the defendant wants to join (and) that club doesn’t want him to join.”

Caitriona Keenan, defending, argued that Hamilton collects imitation firearms which are kept in a safe.

She said the two men had exchanged messages about the motorcycle club and the possibility of buying a replica weapon.

“Mr Hamilton sent the injured party a photograph of one of these firearms… and this was taken completely out of context,” Ms Keenan submitted.

“He was by no means threatening his friend, this was a simple misunderstanding.”

With the defendant said to suffer from a serious health issue, the judge requested a medical report.

Adjourning the bail application, Sir Declan Morgan stated: “I need to take a closer look at the background of this man to see whether I could safely allow him into the community.”


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