Grandfather to face trial over 11 firearms charges

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A west Belfast grandfather was yesterday ordered to stand trial for firearms offences.

Gerard Thomas Porter, 50, of Cluain Mor Drive off the Springfield Road, appeared at the Crown Court in Belfast for an arraignment hearing on a total of 11 charges.

He pleaded not guilty to possessing guns without certificates on May 23, 2018.

According to court papers, the weapons were a Walter P1 9 X 19 mm pistol, a Sturm Ruger handgun and a Miroku model 7000 GF-1 shotgun.

Porter further denied possessing the firearms while under a prohibition after he was imprisoned for over three years in March 1993, and having the guns in suspicious circumstances.

The defendant also pleaded not guilty to handling stolen goods, namely that the Miroku shotgun which had previously been stolen from its owner, and obstructing a police constable.

Asked by Judge Patricia Smyth for the background to the charges, prosecution lawyer Philip Henry said the firearms were seized by police at “three different locations” in the defendant’s home.

He said one of the weapons was found in the hotpress of the property while another was uncovered in a “pigeon hut/shed”.

Defence barrister Adrian Higgins described the defendant as a “vulnerable person” who had been “pressured” into keeping the weapons by a “criminal gang”.

He applied for a bail variation to relax Porter’s electronic tagging and signing at a police station so he can go on holiday for a week to a caravan in Newcastle, Co Down.

The judge said she “had real concerns about the issue of alcohol” and relaxing that part of his bail conditions.

Mr Higgins asked for a compromise, saying the court could ban the defendant from drinking in licensed premises but he could take alcohol while in the caravan.

The prosecution told the court that the investigating officer thought Porter had “alcohol dependency” issues.

Judge Smith did not relax the alcohol prohibition. “The tagging and reporting will be relaxed.”

Porter’s proposed trial is in September.