Belfast Telegraph

Boy finds gun in Antrim school playground

By Patrice Dougan

Parents have been left shocked and angry after a 10-year-old boy found a gun in his school playground and brought it home.

The boy discovered the weapon in the playground of Parkhall Primary School in Antrim town, on Friday afternoon.

It is believed he thought it was a toy and brought it home to show his parents. They contacted police immediately.

The weapon was identified as a 9mm pistol and described as "viable". It is not known whether it was loaded at the time. Officers removed the gun for examination.

Parents of children at the school were informed about the worrying discovery yesterday, when a letter from the principal was sent home with pupils.

The letter stated what had happened, and asked parents to urge their children not to pick up strange objects but to alert teachers to anything suspicious. It sparked an angry response, and an emergency meeting was called at the local community centre in the Parkhall estate, where the school is situated.

UUP councillor Adrian Watson, who attended the meeting, said he had been contacted by numerous parents upset by the find.

"It's very worrying to say the least," he said. "The community is not very happy." The discovery comes just two weeks after a pipe-bomb was left on the windowsill of a Polish couple's home in the nearby Steeple estate, and Mr Watson said local people feel "enough is enough". "There's a lot of anger from parents I have met and spoken to," he said.

"It's caused a lot of concern about what could have happened.

"There's idiots out there who don't have much care for the safety of young kids, kids who could have picked it up thinking it was a toy and pulled the trigger.

"God knows what could have happened."

He said he had spoken to a senior police officer who confirmed the gun was a potentially dangerous weapon.

"It had been adapted, but it was a viable, capable 9mm pistol," Mr Watson said.

"There's no suggestion yet that it's linked to any paramilitary group, or any robbery or criminal activity, but I imagine there's extensive forensics going on."

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