Man denies knowing about gun, silencer and ammunition

Laganside Court building, Belfast
Laganside Court building, Belfast

A 34-year old man whose DNA was found on a gun, silencer and ammunition uncovered in two separate ceiling areas in a block of flats, has denied having anything to do with the arms cache.

Wayne Robin Matthews told his Belfast Crown Court trial that he often bedded down in the Dunlop House flat in the Castlereagh Street area, once owned by a friend who has since died of cancer.

Laganside Courts, Belfast.  Pic: Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker 22/5/2013

Laganside Courts, Belfast. Pic: Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker 22/5/2013

He later described the flat as something akin to a drinking den with little or no amenities, and while staying there kept his clothing in a number of bags.

Matthews told defence QC Arthur Harvey that in March 2014, when police were searching the flat under a warrant in relation to a different matter, he had gone to the flat and spoke to officers.

This was before the silencer was later uncovered, after an officer noticed that one of the ceiling tiles in the hallway just outside the flat was loose.

In a later seperate search of the ceiling in a basement corridor, police found the Browning pistol and 24 rounds of ammunition.

The silencer was found to fit the semi-automatic pistol which was in a plastic bag wrapped in a tea towel along with the bullets, which were in a knotted sock.

Asked by Mr Harvey if he had ever touched or seen the silencer, Matthews replied: “No”, and repeated the answer when asked the same question about the pistol and ammunition.

However, Matthews, who was not arrested for several weeks after the find, said he had no idea how his DNA may have gotten on the items, and accepted he could provide police with no explanition, although he could have worn the sock.

Under cross-examination by prosecutor Robin Steer, Matthews maintained while he told police he stayed in the flat “brave and often”, he had nothing to do with the weapons and that he “didn’t put it there”.

Later, forensic scientist Paul Wilson said that the DNA found on the items was consistent with a secondary transfer, but that there was no way of knowing when this may have occured.

He said the high level of DNA found in the sock indicated that it may have been worn by the defendant.

Mr Wilson also agreed with the defence that if the pistol was kept with the sock containing the bullets, there would be a transfer of DNA, and in relation to the silencer, if someone had been in contact with Matthew’s DNA, given the amount of DNA recovered, this too was consistant with secondary transfer.

The scientist, who specialised in DNA profiling agreed it was important to have the “proper history” surrounding items when considering the possibility of “contamination”.

Mr Wilson said that without a “complete history, you cannot give a complete opinion”

He also agreed that someone with a skin condition, similar to that suffered by Matthews, would readily shed their skin.

On Friday, it is expected that following final submissions the jury of seven men and five women will retire to consider the verdicts in the case of Matthews from Tower Court in Belfast, who denies both possessing the firearms and ammunition in suspicious circumstances, and having the handgun without a Firearms Certificate.