Man accused of storing weapons '˜had £8,000 drug debt'

A west Belfast man accused of storing two shotguns and a pistol in his family home said he owed an £8,000 drug debt, a court has heard.

Police claim the weapons discovered during searches at Gerard Porter’s Cluain Mor Drive property on Wednesday were being kept for an organised crime gang.

A judge was also told one of the guns found in an airing cupboard could have been accessible by children living at the property.

Porter, a 49-year-old father of four, appeared before Belfast Magistrates’ Court charged with possessing firearms in suspicious circumstances and handling stolen goods.

He also faces counts of obstructing police, disorderly behaviour, and having firearms following a sentence of imprisonment.

Opposing bail, a detective constable claimed Porter poses a strong risk of reoffending.

“Police discovered three firearms – two shotguns and a pistol, in the defendant’s property,” he said.

“During interviews the defendant disclosed that he owed a substantial drugs debt, £8,000.

“We believe the weapons were put there when the defendant was asked to keep them for an organised crime gang.”

District Judge Fiona Bagnall was told Porter will come under further pressure if he was released.

With children said to stay at his house, the detective claimed the stored weapons also put other family members at risk.

“One of the shotguns in an airing cupboard was just open in a bag, so there was ready access to that weapon if a child had found it,” he added.

It was confirmed during the hearing that no ammunition was discovered with the guns.

A defence lawyer told the court Porter had made some admissions in the case.

He argued that his client should be released to care for one of his children with medical needs.

But refusing bail, Judge Bagnall said: “I have to say it’s a very concerning set of circumstances.”

She remanded Porter in custody to appear again by video-link on June 21.