East Belfast man ‘addicted to guns’

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A retired engineer facing a series of firearm charges has an addiction to making and test-firing guns, a court has heard.

David Cunningham discharged improvised weapons inside his east Belfast home and out at sea as part of a fascination with their construction and operation, a judge was told.

The 63-year-old was remanded into custody on eight charges, including possession of handguns, zip guns and Taser stun guns.

He is also accused of having explosive substances, namely gunpowder, in suspicious circumstances, possession of ammunition, and discharging a firearm in public.

Cunningham was arrested after police searched his house at Castlereagh Parade on Monday.

Officers seized nine zip and handguns, four stun guns and a large quantity of bullets and shotgun cartridges.

Some of the haul was found in a hide under bedroom floorboards.

Appearing in the dock at Belfast Magistrates’ Court dressed in a grey sweatshirt, Cunningham confirmed he understood the charges against him.

A detective constable opposed his application for bail, claiming there was a risk he could reoffend and endanger the public.

She said: “He admitted during interview buying and adapting the zip guns and stun guns.

“He stated he has tried to throw these out, but feels he has an addiction to possessing and constructing these weapons.”

Material was either bought or retrieved from skips, the court heard.

District Judge Fiona Bagnall was told Cunningham admitted carrying a loaded weapon along a coastal pathway at Crawfordsburn, Co Down and testing live rounds out at sea.

He also allegedly fired into the air in a built-up residential area.

According to the detective Cunningham further admitted having a silencer which he attached to zip guns and discharged in his own home to check for noise reduction.

“He has endangered himself and anyone in the vicinity when discharging these firearms,” she added.

Defence solicitor Adrian Harvey revealed that his client gained his knowledge during a 10-year engineering career.

“He would describe it as a hobby and something of a fascination,” the lawyer said.

“He’s getting information obtained from the internet and using it to make zip guns and test fire them.”

Describing Cunningham as a lone figure, Mr Harvey also disclosed he is blind in one eye and has only 65 per cent vision in the other eye.

Cunningham was remanded in custody to appear again by video link on June 10.