Belfast Telegraph

Drug dealer found hiding in wardrobe admits gun charge

By John Cassidy

A man found concealed in a wardrobe after police uncovered £300,000 worth of cocaine in a house search pleaded guilty to gun and ammunition charges yesterday.

At Belfast Crown Court, defence barrister Jonpaul Shields asked that Gerard Hall be rearraigned on the two charges he had previously denied.

Hall (34), from Lisburn Road in south Belfast, pleaded guilty to possessing a Walther P1 pistol and nine 19mm calibre cartridges in suspicious circumstances.

A prosecution barrister told Belfast Recorder Judge David McFarland that Hall had previously pleaded guilty to possessing two black stun guns in the shape of torches.

And he had admitted possession of cocaine with intent to supply, and possession of herbal cannabis.

The defendant had also pleaded guilty to dangerous driving on Mayfield High Street in Newtownabbey on June 21, 2016.

The prosecution counsel applied to have charges of possessing cocaine, possession of ammunition and having a firearm without a certificate "left on the court's books in the usual terms''.

Remanding Hall back into custody, Judge McFarland ordered a Probation Service report ahead of sentencing next month.

No details were given in court yesterday on the background to the charges. But during an unsuccessful High Court bail application in January, a judge was told Hall was hunted by police for four months over a £300,000 cocaine seizure in Newtownabbey until he was eventually found hiding in a wardrobe.

The court heard how after officers arrived at his rented flat in June last year, Hall allegedly drove off at speed, forcing police to jump out of the way of his car. Crown lawyer Natalie Pinkerton said searches of the property recovered stashes of cocaine with up to 87% purity, herbal cannabis, sets of scales and suspected dealing bags.

A fingerprint on a bag containing some of the drugs allegedly connected the defendant to them.

During a second search the following day police recovered a 9mm pistol and several rounds of ammunition in the attic.

Two stun guns were located in the kitchen and bedroom of the property.

Police were unable to locate Hall until he was tracked down to an address on the Springfield Road in west Belfast in October 2016.

Ms Pinkerton said: "He was hiding in a wardrobe and ignored repeated requests to come out for 25 minutes."

Denying bail due to the risk of flight, Mr Justice Burgess said: "He knew police were looking for him.

"It would have been perfectly easy to surrender himself."

Belfast Telegraph

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