DNA '˜links Co Antrim man to feud weapons'

DNA evidence allegedly links a Co Antrim man to loaded guns seized by police investigating a loyalist paramilitary feud, a court has heard.

A detective also confirmed more than 60 threat messages have been served in the Carrickfergus area during a dispute that has cost over £1.5m to police.

Details emerged as David Weir appeared at Belfast Magistrates’ Court accused of possessing a firearm or ammunition with intent to endanger life.

The 34-year-old, of Moyard Gardens in Greenisland, was granted bail but banned from entering the south east Antrim area.

Weir was charged following forensic tests on two pistols recovered from a car at Buskin Place in Carrick on October 28 last year.

The weapons had hollowed-out bullets in the chambers and other ammunition concealed in a glove and cloth bag.

A half-full five-litre can of fuel was found in the boot of the Vauxhall Vectra.

District Judge Fiona Bagnall was told police believe the loaded firearms were to be used in the immediate future to seriously harm or kill.

The canister of petrol was there to set the vehicle alight after the anticipated gun attack, it was claimed.

Opposing bail, the detective revealed that Weir was first arrested and released in December.

He was detained again and charged on Tuesday after tests established his DNA on the magazine of one of the pistols, the court heard.

Police alleged that Weir was to play a major part in any operation.

Referring to the wider feud in the Carrick area, the detective said police have relayed at least 63 threat messages between May and November last year.

During that period £1.6m has been spent on dealing with the situation, the court heard.

Police intelligence allegedly links Weir to a group involved in the feud.

Defence solicitor Gavin Graham insisted there is no fingerprint evidence connecting his client to the guns.

He argued that police should explore the possibility of an innocent transfer of DNA onto the weapons.

Mr Graham also pointed out that five other men accused of involvement have all been released from custody.

Granting bail for Weir to live with a relative in Belfast, Mrs Bagnall imposed a curfew and banned him from contacting any co-accused.

She also ordered: “He is to be excluded from south east Antrim.”

Weir will appear again in court next month.