Belfast Telegraph

Belfast couple face trial after machine gun found at home

By Alan Erwin

A husband and wife are to stand trial accused of possessing a submachine gun at their home on the outskirts of Belfast, a judge has ruled.

Damian and Andrea Black face charges connected to the seizure of a weapon said to be capable of firing 850 rounds a minute.

The couple mounted a legal bid to have the case against them halted.

But the Courts Service confirmed both defendants were returned for trial on a date to be fixed.

The Scorpion submachine gun and bullets were allegedly found inside a garage bin at their house on Lagmore Glen, Dunmurry in April last year.

It was recovered as part of a police operation into suspected paramilitary activity, a previous court was told.

Damian Black, a 48-year-old electrician, and Andrea Black, 43, are jointly charged with possessing the weapon and five rounds of ammunition in suspicious circumstances.

They also face a further count of having a firearm designed or adapted so that two or more missiles can be discharged without repeat pressure on the trigger.

Both defendants deny the charges, contending there is no evidence connecting them to the gun.

During a preliminary enquiry hearing at Belfast Magistrates' Court their lawyers argued that the case against them should be dismissed before it reaches trial.

Counsel for Damian Black claimed the prosecution was depending on an assertion that he drove past his home without stopping while police were at the property.

Insisting his client then cooperated fully with officers, the barrister told District Judge Fiona Bagnall his client should be discharged.

Andrea Black's lawyer also contended there was insufficient evidence for criminal proceedings to continue against her.

But the prosecution countered that an inference can be drawn against both accused at this stage.

Judge Bagnall had reserved her decision on the defence application to consider submissions and read the relevant authorities.

However, the Courts Service has now confirmed that she committed both accused for trial at Belfast Crown Court.

The couple remain on bail until those proceedings get underway

Belfast Telegraph Digital

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