Belfast Telegraph

School pupil denies trying to purchase machine-gun at break time

By Nevin Farrell

A pupil accused of leaving school during break time to attempt to buy a Russian sub-machine gun and ammunition has pleaded not guilty to the charges he faces.

The teenager - who cannot be named because of his age - was 14 at the time of the alleged offences earlier this year.

At Coleraine Youth Court, where he was accompanied by his mother and father, he formally entered not guilty pleas and elected to have his case sent to the Crown Court.

The teenager is charged with attempting to possess a PPSh43 sub-machine gun and 100 rounds of ammunition with intent to endanger life between March 23 and April 7 this year.

He is also accused of attempting to possess the machine gun and ammunition with intent to endanger life or to cause serious damage to property or to enable another person to do so.

And he is charged with possessing a document containing instructions for the making of an explosive substance, contrary to the Terrorism Act.

In April, when the boy first appeared in court, a police officer claimed the authorities were monitoring an attempt to acquire a "live" firearm through the "dark web".

After obtaining covert evidence an "operative" was in place in the Coleraine area when the teen allegedly attended and was arrested.

The officer alleged the accused had £150 cash on him to buy 100 rounds of ammunition and that the teenager believed he could further purchase a sub-machine gun.

She alleged the accused said he wanted to "intimidate a third party" with the gun.

The officer told Ballymena Magistrates Court in April: "He got out of school to perform this meeting at break time."

The original bail conditions had included a ban on accessing the internet but at a recent court a defence lawyer asked for bail to be varied to allow the child to go online to help with his GCSE studies.

A police officer said she was happy to accept the change to bail if the boy was supervised and a judge granted it.

The case has been adjourned until November.

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