Four Co Down men on gun charges

Court
Court

Three men and a teenager from Kilkeel have appeared in court accused of having a gun.

Standing side by side in the dock of Newry Magistrates’ Court, 24-year-old Denver Gardiner, Ross Gardiner, 23, 19-year-old Ryan Matthews and William Morris, 23, were all jointly charged with possessing a firearm in suspicious circumstances on Sunday.

Denver Gardiner is further accused of driving without insurance and possessing class B cannabis on the same date.

All four applied for bail but only Matthews was released.

A PSNI officer told the court that police had “substantial grounds” to object to bail as they feared they would commit further offences.

The officer told the court that at around midnight, police spotted a speeding car exiting Thomas Street in Bessbrook.

Officers stopped and searched the vehicle, allegedly driven by Denver Gardiner, and uncovered a revolver handgun wrapped in an orange cloth, sitting on the back seat.

She said while it was examined and found to be in working order, no ammunition had been found.

The four defendants were arrested, and in follow-up searches at their homes, a small amount of cannabis was discovered at the home of Denver Gardiner, while checks with the insurance database found no insurance on vehicle.

During interviews, they claimed they had just purchased the vehicle without exchanging money and the detective said while colleagues searched the home of the seller of the vehicle, he was not at home at the time and has not yet been spoken to.

Refusing bail for the three oldest defendants, the district judge said the fact all three had breached conditions on previous charges meant the risk of reoffending was extremely high.

Matthews was given bail as he is far younger than other defendants with a less extensive criminal record.

All four are due back in court on August 31.