Northern Ireland news

Vulnerable man accused of having UVF guns and explosives stored at his home in east Belfast to be released from custody

Laganside courthouse in Belfast

A VULNERABLE man accused of having UVF guns and explosives stored at his home in east Belfast is to be released from custody, a High Court judge ruled today.

Robin Baker was granted bail amid claims he knew nothing about the haul of weapons hidden under stairs and behind plasterboard in the property he shares with his co-accused brother.

Mr Justice O'Hara said: "There is a possibility that this 47-year-old man who is limited and somewhat disadvantaged in life is exactly the sort of person the UVF takes advantage of."

Baker was among four men arrested during a series of police raids on November 18.

Six guns, a large quantity of assorted ammunition, two pipe bombs and two smoke grenades were discovered at the Belvoir Street address where he lives with 51-year William Baker.

Prosecutors revealed that a box of magnets believed to be used on the underside of a vehicle was also located in the operation targeting the East Belfast UVF.

The guns were found in a void behind a wall covered over by a poster or framed picture, the court heard.

Both brothers face charges of possessing firearms and explosives with intent to endanger life and in suspicious circumstances. They are also accused of having a prohibited weapon.

During interviews carried out in the presence of an appropriate adult, Robin Baker provided a statement in which he denied knowing anything about the haul or any links to the UVF.

William Baker also told police his brother was unaware of what had been stored at the property.

He claimed to have been given a bag of items to hold onto as a favour after problems with a neighbour holding all-night parties were resolved.

Seeking bail for Robin Baker, defence barrister Joe Brolly told the court that the guns had been concealed behind what used to be a hatch.

The storage area was covered by a frame of William Baker's flute band uniform.

Despite acknowledging the accused may ultimately still have a case to answer, Mr Justice O'Hara decided to grant bail to return to his home address.

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