Man on trial over pistol, silencer and bullets found in east Belfast flats

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A 34-year-old man has gone on trial at Belfast Crown Court, accused of possessing a gun and ammunition found in two separate ceiling areas in a block of flats.

The jury was yesterday told that a Browning semi-automatic pistol, a silencer, a magazine and 24 bullets were found in Dunlop House in east Belfast two years ago.

A Crown prosecutor said that when the items were forensically examined, defendant Wayne Robin Matthews’ DNA was found on the items seized.

Matthews, who now resides at Tower Court in Belfast, has been charged with both possessing the firearms and ammunition in suspicious circumstances, and also possessing the handgun without a firearms certificate. He denies both charges.

Prosecuting barrister Robin Steer said the items were found on March 27, 2014.

Officers attended Dunlop House in the Castlereagh Street area to carry out the search of a flat under a warrant in relation to a different matter. As the police team were leaving the flat, an officer noticed that one of the ceiling tiles in the hallway just outside the flat was loose.

The officer was able to move the ceiling tile and when he reached up into the recess, he felt a cylindrical object which turned out to be a silencer.

A second search was conducted that evening, which uncovered a plastic bag containing a Browning pistol and magazine, and a black sock containing 24 bullets for the gun.

The Crown prosecutor said Matthews’ DNA was found on the items, although the jury also heard it was the defence’s case that Matthews’ DNA was on the items due to secondary transfer via contamination.

At hearing.