Northern Ireland

Loyalist Winston Irvine set to find out if he will be ordered to stand trial over gun and ammunition in boot of car

Judge confirms that a hearing into the strength of the prosecution evidence will be held later this month

Loyalist Winston Irvine
Loyalist Winston Irvine

A high-profile loyalist accused of having guns and ammunition in the boot of his car is set to discover if he will be ordered to stand trial.

Winston ‘Winkie’ Irvine (48) has requested a preliminary inquiry in a legal bid to have the case against him thrown out.

A judge at Belfast Magistrates’ Court confirmed on Thursday that a hearing into the strength of the prosecution evidence will be held later this month.

Up to a dozen police surveillance officers are expected to give evidence at those proceedings.

Irvine and co-defendant Robin Workman (53) face charges connected to a haul of weapons seized in Belfast in June 2022.

Belfast Magistrates’ Court
Belfast Magistrates’ Court

Police claim Workman, a self-employed joiner, transported the guns in his van to a meeting in the Glencairn area.

A short time later officers stopped Irvine’s car at Disraeli Street in the city.

Two suspected pistols, an air gun, magazines and more than 200 rounds of ammunition were discovered inside a leather Calvin Klein holdall in the boot of the vehicle.

Irvine, of Ballysillan Road in Belfast, has denied knowing anything about the contents of the bag.

Workman, from Shore Road in Larne, Co Antrim, was arrested following a hospital appointment the same day.

Detectives believe he was the driver of the van involved in the alleged exchange.

Both men are currently on bail charged with possessing a firearm and ammunition in suspicious circumstances, possessing a prohibited firearm, possession of a handgun without a certificate, and having ammunition without a certificate.

Irvine’s legal representatives have already indicated that he is seeking a preliminary inquiry to establish if there is a prima facie case to answer.

With twelve police witnesses due to testify, it was anticipated that the prosecution will be seeking anonymity for those officers.

The case was listed for a further update in court on Thursday.

Following a brief mention, District Judge Anne Marshall confirmed that two days have been allocated to deal with the preliminary inquiry.