Belfast Telegraph

Bailed shotgun accused 'knew nothing' about hidden weapon

By Ashleigh McDonald

A man charged over the discovery of a sawn-off shotgun was released on bail yesterday.

Gerard Martin McClory denied any knowledge of the weapon or ammunition seized during a search of his home in Gartree Place, west Belfast.

The High Court was told that the raid was conducted because of a unrelated matter linked to the alleged blackmailing of a man in Lisburn in February.

Crown barrister Kate McKay said that in that incident, two men threatened a third man, who was given a piece of paper bearing a mobile phone number he was told to ring when he raised the money they demanded from him.

That piece of paper was a Paypoint receipt that was subsequently found to bear McClory's fingerprints.

Mrs McKay said that as a result of that incident, police carried out a number of searches, including one at 47-year-old McClory's home, during which a number of items were found inside a cupboard in an en suite bathroom.

Items located included a sawn-off shotgun, shotgun cartridges and ammunition for a handgun, all of which were in a bag.

Mrs McKay said that present during the search was McClory and a lodger. She also said McClory came before the court with a "historic" criminal record.

Mrs McKay added that as ammunition for a handgun was found, minus the handgun, police "are concerned there is a further firearm outstanding".

The High Court heard that McClory, who works as a chef in a cafe in west Belfast, denied knowledge of any of the items found inside the cupboard in his bathroom.

Defence barrister Sean Mullan said that when McClory was asked to explain his fingerprints on the receipt, he replied he had been drinking in a local pub, went to the shop and was asked when he was there to buy a £5 top-up for a mobile phone.

He also made the case that there had been a party in the house prior to the items being found and that McClory's family had "raised concerns" about both the party and the lodger.

After hearing the defence set out McClory's case, Mr Justice O'Hara said that, if it was true, then McClory was "an innocent man who has been spectacularly unlucky on two occasions".

Branding the charges faced by the defendant "serious and significant", Mr Justice O'Hara granted bail and imposed a number of conditions. These included adhering to a 10pm to 8am curfew, reporting to police three times a week and wearing a tag.

Belfast Telegraph

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