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Mother-of-two facing gun charge is released on bail

A woman accused of having a loaded gun close to the scene of north Belfast riots has been released on bail.

Norma Elizabeth Crowder (49) faces charges of possessing a firearm and ammunition in suspicious circumstances.

Police claimed the revolver was found in a hide which formed part of decking in the back garden of her Butler Walk property.

The divorced mother-of-two was arrested following police searches in the Ardoyne district last Friday.

Belfast Magistrates Court heard Crowder's home was located a short distance from the scene of the violence which erupted last week at shop fronts in the area.

Opposing her release, a detective constable said: “Given the recent public disorder we have had and attempts made on police officers’ lives, it does give concern.”

During questioning the officer said police believe the decking was either built as a hide or had been adapted for that purpose.

He confirmed the German revolver contained six live rounds, with a quantity of other ammunition also recovered.

The detective based his opposition to bail on the suspected risk of flight.

The court was told just over £1,400 in cash was seized from Crowder's home, while a bank account contained around £7,000.

But a defence solicitor stressed the money came from two road traffic injury compensation claims.

He also pointed out that his client consistently denied knowing anything about the gun during questioning.

Rejecting concerns that Crowder may flee, he said she had lived in the area for nine years and has two daughters living nearby.

Granting bail, Deputy District Judge Rafferty said: “The violence which has recently taken place in the Ardoyne area has been nothing short of a disgraceful reminder of a time which all right-thinking members of society

thought had gone into the past.” As part of the conditions of Crowder's release, he imposed a night-time curfew and electronic tagging.

The judge also ordered her to report to police three times a week and to surrender her passport.

Crowder was remanded to appear again in court next month.

Meanwhile, a teenager appeared in court yesterday accused of rioting in Belfast and trying to damage cars with golf balls.

The 16-year-old, who cannot be named because of his age, was charged in connection with disturbances at East Bridge Street on July 13.

He is accused of rioting and the attempted criminal damage of motor vehicles.

The youth is further alleged to have possessed an article with intent to damage property, namely golf clubs and balls, and causing a dangerous article to be on a road. He was remanded on bail at Belfast Youth Court to appear again next month.

A 15-year-old co-accused will appear in court on similar charges at a later date.

Belfast Telegraph