Belfast Telegraph

Court applauds suspected dissident

A court in Northern Ireland erupted into wolf whistles and applause as a 29-year-old suspected dissident republican was remanded into custody charged with weapons offences.

Vincent Kelly, from Hawthorn Street, Belfast, is accused of possession of an assault rifle and ammunition with intend to endanger life.

He is charged with having the gun, 50 rounds of 9mm ammunition and three magazines on November 24.

Kelly, who was applauded by supporters as he entered the dock at Belfast Magistrates' Court, gave no response as the charge was put to him.

A constable from the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) told the court he believed he could connect the defendant to the charge.

There was no application for bail.

Throughout the brief hearing, Kelly, who was dressed in a grey hooded tracksuit top and jeans, waved and gave the thumbs-up to supporters who were seated in the public gallery.

Adjourning the case for four weeks, District Judge Peter King ordered Kelly be taken to the cells.

There was a significant police presence at Laganside court complex in Belfast city centre. Officers from the Police Service of Northern Ireland's (PSNI) riot squad stood at the entrance to courtroom number 10 while a number of others lined the corridor outside.

Kelly was among four people arrested in a police sting in Belfast last Thursday night. They recovered what was believed to have been an AK47 and ammunition in a holdall bag inside a white taxi close to Grosvenor Road police station in the west of the city.

Three others all aged in their late 20s were arrested as part of a follow-up operation but have since been released without charge.

The case is expected to be heard again on December 22.

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