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Judge rejects Antrim man's claim that he found bag containing guns and ammunition

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Belfast Crown Court (Niall Carson/PA)

Belfast Crown Court (Niall Carson/PA)

PA

Belfast Crown Court (Niall Carson/PA)

A Crown Court Judge has rejected a Co Antrim man's claim that he found a bag containing guns and ammunition in a shed whilst out walking.

Darren Clawson - a self-confessed gun enthusiast - was handed a three-year sentence at Belfast Crown Court after he admitted a total of nine charges arising from a search of his home.

From Cheston Street in Carrick, he was informed he will serve 18 months of his licence in prison followed by 18 months on licence, after he admitted three counts of possessing a firearm in suspicious circumstances and six counts of possessing ammunition in suspicious circumstances.

Clawson's home was searched on January 21 last year when police located three guns along with an assortment of ammunition. One of the weapons was loaded and found under Clawson's bed.

The 33-year old was arrested and during an interview, he failed to provide an full explanation as to why the items were in his home, other than to say he had an interest in guns.

He also told police when he bought the Webley revolver a few months before his home was raided, it had four bullets in the chamber which he left inside.

When asked if he has been asked to store the weapons, he asked to speak to a solicitor, then gave a 'no comment' response other than to say he was fascinated with weapons.

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As she sentenced Clawson, Judge Donna McColgan QC revealed he told a Probation Officer that in November 2019 he was drunk and was out for a walk when he saw a number of men leaving a shed at the back of an empty house.

Clawson told Probation he went to investigate, found a bag in a shed, didn't check what was in it and took it home, where he discovered it contained guns and ammunition.

He said he knew he shouldn't have the items and considered throwing them in Belfast Lough - but held on to them.

Rejecting this claim, Judge McColgan said: "I find it quite incredible that the defendant expects the court to accept that this was an entirely fortuitous find for a gun enthusiast and the court does not accept this explanation."

As she sentenced Clawson, Judge McColgan told him that any breach of his licence "will be dealt with in the appropriate manner."


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