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Dissidents compelled accused to store gun

A man caught storing a gun and bullets for dissident republicans was given a suspended jail term.

Eamon Toner (34) received a five-year sentence suspended for three years at Belfast Crown Court yesterday. Judge Gordon Kerr QC said he was of the view that there were exceptional circumstances in the case in that Toner was genuinely in fear of his life having received a Mass card and a bullet in the post, signed by the CIRA.

An earlier court heard how police uncovered a .38 revolver and 85 bullets hidden behind loose bricks in what was once a ventilator on September 16, 2011.

In an agreed set of facts read out to the court, it was recounted how in March or April of 2011, Toner, from Clonovogie Gardens in Belfast, was in a fight with a well-known republican and received a Mass card. He was told to leave the country “or he would be killed”.

He brought the threats to the attention of police but a masked man came to his home with a rucksack and hid the weapon.

Toner had pleaded to charges of possessing a gun under suspicious circumstances and possessing a prohibited weapon (the bullets).

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