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Gun charge pensioner Samuel Tweed admits 1974 court flight


A pensioner has pleaded guilty to escaping from Belfast's former Magistrates Court nearly 40 years ago.

However Samuel Tweed from Mark Street in Newtownards, still faces a trial in connection with the discovery of a cache of guns and ammunition in the city in April 1974, less than a month before his escape from the Chichester Street courthouse.

Although freed on continuing bail, Belfast Recorder Judge David McFarland told the pensioner that could not be taken as an indication as to how the court will deal with him in respect of the escaping lawful custody charge.

Tweed, on £7,000 bail, pleaded guilty to escaping at his formal arraignment before Belfast Crown Court, where he also pleaded not guilty to four charges, two of each of possessing firearms and ammunition with intent and under suspicious circumstances on April 19, 1974.


The pensioner, who was only re-arrested in September 2012, denies having a Walther Model PP self-loading pistol calibre 9mm K and a quantity of ammunition, and separate charges of having six .45 calibre revolvers; two .22 calibre Star pistols; two .22 calibre pistols; a .22 calibre Browning pistol; a .22 calibre revolver, a .25 calibre Mauser pistol; a .38 Webley revolver; two .38 calibre revolvers; a .32 calibre pistol; a 9mm Beretta pistol; a 12 bore sawn-off shotgun; a 9mm magazine; a .22 calibre magazine and a quantity of assorted ammunition. At a previous court hearing, shortly after his arrest in 2012, a detective opposing bail said: "A time period of 38 years has elapsed in which he evaded detection."

Defence told the same hearing a lawyer representing the accused went to police 18 months previously and was told there were no warrants for his arrest.

Tweed's wife had just died at the time he made his enquiries.

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"Having looked after his wife, who had been ill with cancer for five years, she died and he decided if there was anything, to resolve it," said the defence lawyer in 2012.

"This man is not intent on leaving the jurisdiction and is not intent on evading what may be before him."

Tweed is expect to go on trial for the firearms offences in April of this year.

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