Attack gun linked to nine punishment shootings, court told

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A stolen gun used in a so-called punishment attack is linked to up to nine paramilitary shootings in north Belfast, a court heard on Friday.

Detectives also claimed a man accused of one attack nearly five years ago is connected by a DNA match with blood on a knife used by the victim’s mother.

Patrick O’Neill, 40, appeared before Belfast Magistrates’ Court to face charges of wounding with intent to do grievous bodily harm, and possession of a Glock17 9mm pistol with intent to commit an indictable offence.

The alleged offences relate to an attack on a man in a house at Brompton Park in the Ardoyne neighbourhood in November 2010.

The victim was shot up to seven times in the abdomen, groin and leg areas.

At the time dissident republican grouping Oglaigh na hEireann (ONH) was blamed for the attack.

O’Neill, of no fixed address, was charged after a forensic link was made earlier this year.

A detective claimed the defendant’s DNA matched a blood sample recovered from the knife wielded by the shooting victim’s mother in a bid to fend off his attackers.

Bail was opposed due to the perceived risk of reoffending.

The court heard the Glock pistol used in the attack was stolen during a burglary at an undisclosed location years earlier.

Although further details were not set out, the weapon is standard issue for PSNI officers.

It was also revealed that police investigations have linked the gun to nine so-called punishment shootings in the area.

O’Neill is not charged in connection with any of the other attacks.

He was granted bail to live at an address on Duncairn Parade in the city.

However, O’Neill is expected to remain in custody pending the outcome of a prosecution challenge to him getting bail.

He will appear by video-link for the appeal hearing at the High Court on Monday.