Northern Ireland

Former soldier accused of having explosives, gun and silencer linked to east Belfast UVF granted bail

The defendant has been granted bail at the High Court
The defendant has been granted bail at the High Court

A FORMER soldier accused of having explosives, a gun and silencer linked to the east Belfast UVF has been granted bail at the High Court.

Bryce Pounder is facing prosecution in connection with a police operation targeting the paramilitary grouping.

The 34-year-old, with an address on the city's Newtownards Road, was among four men arrested during a series of raids on November 18.

Prosecution counsel Mark Farrell said: "This case involves a targeted operation against the activities of the east Belfast UVF".

Police allegedly recovered a pipe bomb, handgun, silencer and assorted ammunition at Pounder's apartment. Some of the material was found in a school bag and a holdall under the bed, a previous court heard.

Pounder told police menacing individuals had instructed him to keep the holdall due to an £1,800 drug debt.

It also emerged that he formerly served as a rifleman with a regiment based in Yorkshire.

Pounder faces charges of possessing explosives and a firearm with intent to endanger life. He is not accused of UVF membership or any paramilitary offences.

Two co-defendants, William Baker (51) and his brother Robin Baker (47), have already been granted bail on similar charges over guns and pipe bombs seized from their Belvoir Street home.

Mr Farrell confirmed no distinction can be made between Pounder and the two brothers.

"Police have asked me to oppose bail, but the legal position is I cannot distinguish in law the roles of this defendant and (those) two defendants," counsel said.

The judge, Sir Declan Morgan, indicated that the accused would have faced "an uphill struggle" if his application was made in isolation.

Recognising the need for consistency, however, Sir Declan said: "I have very little enthusiasm for this, but if that's what the position is then I don't think I can really do much about it".

Pounder was granted bail to live at an approved address outside the area where the seizures were made.

Sir Declan also ordered: "He is to be excluded from east Belfast".