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Belfast guns seizure: Man says he was go-between for community and UDA

The Laganside Courts in Belfast
William McCune appeared at Belfast Magistrates' Court on Friday

A man stopped in a car with guns and ammunition in Belfast claimed a friend in the government asked him to dispose of the weapons, a court has heard.

William McCune, 45, was detained in the early hours of Thursday in the south of the city.

He told police he acted as a "go-between" for his local community and the UDA.

A sawn-off shotgun, three pistols, balaclavas and an assault-style rifle were among items seized.

Mr McCune, of Bentham Drive, appeared at Belfast Magistrates' Court on Friday to face charges of possessing firearms in suspicious circumstances, and with intent to cause fear of violence.

He is further accused of having ammunition, a prohibited stun-gun, firearms without a licence, and possessing cocaine and cannabis.

An investigating detective said police stopped McCune's Seat Arona on the Upper Lisburn Road for a failure to indicate.

He told officers a suitcase in the back of the SUV may contain revolver guns.

Police located more guns, ammunition, two balaclavas, a Taser, two small bags of suspected cocaine and a cannabis joint inside the vehicle, the court heard.

'Approached to dispose of items'

Follow-up searches at Mr McCune's home led to the discovery of parts for another shotgun, air rifle and "UDA items".

The detective said: "During interviews he stated that he acts as a 'go-between' for the community in south Belfast and the UDA.

"He said that he had been approached by a school friend to dispose of items that were to be left in an alleyway."

Mr McCune claimed he had intended to hand over the haul to the authorities later the same day.

The defendant denied any links to the UDA, the court was told, but admitted a gun found at his home belonged to that organisation and was there to be cleaned before getting rid of it.

The detective told the court Mr McCune stated he had met a friend named who worked "for the government and who asked him to dispose of these items".

Opposing bail, she claimed Mr McCune may have been involved with either paramilitaries or other criminals.

'Points to sinister involvement'

Defence counsel Michael Boyd argued that in reality his client had acted to pay off a debt to loan-sharks.

"The actual truth is he was approached by members of an organisation to mind these items and possibly transport them in exchange of paying off a monetary debt he had built up," he said.

Mr McCune was refused bail based on the risks of reoffending and harm to the public.

District Judge Steven Keown remanded him in custody until April 19.