No jail for hiding ammunition

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A Belfast man caught with 42 rounds of ammunitions hidden in an oven he kept for “sinister elements” walked free from court on Friday with a suspended sentence.

Daniel Hyslop, 53, of College Square North in the city, was sentenced two years in custody suspended for two years after he pleaded guilty to having the ammunition in suspicious circumstances and without a certificate.

Prosecution lawyer Philip Henry told Belfast Crown Court police searched a house in Sorello Street off the Grosvenor Road in West Belfast on June 25, 2015.

He said Hyslop was in the property with the occupier who he described as his “drinking buddy’’ and officers found the 42 rounds of 9 mm Luger cartridges contained inside two ‘children’s snack bags’ in the grill part of the oven.

The DNA profile of three people were found on the bag, said Mr Henry, with Hyslop’s being the most dominant of the three.

“He and his drinking buddy were intoxicated at the time and carried out drinking throughout the police search,” added the prosecutor.

After initially making a no comment interview, Hyslop was interviewed in November 2015 at which he had made a prepared statement, saying he found the bags in the rear garden of the house.

Mr Henry told the court that it was the police view that Hyslop had been “used by more sinister elements but had not been acting under duress”.

He added that Hyslop had 12 previous convictions but nothing for a similar nature.

Defence barrister Jon Paul Shields described Hyslop as a “vulnerable man who suffered from alcohol dependency” and said the house where the police found the ammunition was used as a “drinking den”.

He said he was now living with his brother and had not work since the age of 15, had three grown up children, the youngest who was autistic.

Mr Shields added that some level of trust must have been placed on him to keep the ammunition but added that Hyslop was probably more used than trusted because of his vulnerable position.

Judge Geoffrey Miller QC said Hyslop’s claim that he found the ammunition in the back yard was “quite unbelievable” and said police had gone to search the property with prior knowledge.

He said it was accepted by the prosecution that Hyslop was “not the prime mover” for having ammunition but was “being used by more sinister elements”.

The judge told Hyslop that if he had contested the case and found guilty, he would have imposed a three year sentence.

But Judge Miller said he was giving Hyslop credit for his guilty plea and imposed a concurrent two year sentence suspended for two years on both counts.