SIX men stopped in vans loaded with machetes, a tomahawk axe and sword in
Newtownabbey are to be released from custody, a High Court judge ruled on Friday.
Granting bail to the defendants, Mr Justice O'Hara banned them from
travelling together in any vehicles.
James Doherty (31)Martin Doherty (18) John Doherty (35) Barney Doherty,
(23) Daniel Dundon (25) and James Dundon (20) are each charged with
possessing offensive weapons in public.
They accused, all with addresses in Newtownabbey, were among nine men
arrested after police halted two vans in the area on January 28.
The group were said to have been detained while on their way to attend a
family member's funeral.
But detectives claim the operation disrupted potential serious disorder.
Police were alerted by a member of the public that the two vans were
carrying a number of weapons.
Officers stopped the vehicles at Swanston Road North and a short distance
away on the Antrim Road.
Searches uncovered two machetes, a sword, tomahawk-style hatchet, a
modified pike and a flick knife, the court heard.
Water bottles containing a suspected corrosive substance were also seized
and taken for forensic tests.
James Doherty, Martin Doherty, and John Doherty, all from the Antrim Road,
applied for bail alongside Barney Doherty, of Longlands Avenue, Daniel
Dundon, from the Whitewell Road, and James Dundon, of Felden Avenue.
Prosecutors contended that they may have been involved in suspected
"reprisals" against an unidentified target.
Lawyers for the defendants have insisted, however, that the case is
entirely based on a police hypothesis that something was going to happen.
Mr Justice O'Hara decided that all of the accused can be released on bail
once James Doherty lodges a £15,000 cash surety and the other five put up