Northern Ireland

Newry 'stick gun' accused Bryan McManus granted bail

An engineer accused of reactivating weaponry for dissident republicans claimed to have acted out of fear for his family, the High Court has heard.

Police allegedly found what a judge described as "a chilling arsenal of death and destruction" in a search at the Newry home of Bryan McManus.

Component parts for revolvers, pistols, a walking stick converted into a gun and ammunition were among the cache.

On Monday, Mr McManus was granted bail to attend his daughter's wedding.

The one-day's bail was granted on condition that the deeds to a £150,000 house are surrendered.

Mr McManus faces charges of possessing articles for use in terrorism, possession of firearms in suspicious circumstances, possession with intent to cause fear or violence, and unlawful conversion of a weapon.

The prosecution said the weapons haul was recovered from outbuildings behind his house in Aileen Terrace last September.

Opposing his release due to fears he may flee, Crown counsel Kate McKay said the accused had admitted reactivating previously deactivated guns, and modifying component parts for firearms.

The barrister said Mr McManus claimed to have been doing it since 2007 on behalf of people he believed were dissident republican terrorists.

Although he did not name them he suspected they were connected to the Real IRA, the court heard.

Mr McManus was said to have feared for the safety of his family if he refused to have done what the group requested.

Mrs McKay added: "He would be known to be a highly skilled engineer by profession."

Defence counsel James Johnston disputed claims that his client may flee if released by pointing out that he did nothing while the search of his home had been suspended overnight.

"He obviously knew what was in the garage behind the house and had knowledge of what would be found the next morning, yet he did not leave. He remained there," Mr Johnston said.

The judge hearing the application was shown pictures of the weaponry allegedly recovered from the accused's home.

Mr Justice McCloskey said: "The description to the court and the substantial album of photographs discloses a scene which can only be described as chilling.

"Here one sees a veritable arsenal of weapons of death and destruction."

However, the judge ruled that it would be humane to grant Mr McManus compassionate bail for one day to attend the wedding event.

He ordering the lodgment of a £3,000 cash surety and the deeds to a house owned by the accused's uncle.