Northern Ireland

Kieran Collins jailed for having WWI handgun

A man who was caught transporting a First World War handgun has been jailed for four years.

The judge said Kieran Collins, 36, of Craigavon, County Armagh, posed such a serious risk to the public he was imposing an extended licence sentence.

When Collins has served two years the parole commissioners will decide whether it is safe to release him and under what conditions.

Collins will then be on supervised licence for a further three years.

'Good condition'

The court heard how police had been tracking a Vauxhall Corsa and a Citreon Saxo as they travelled from the border to Portadown on 20 September.

Collins was driving the Corsa when it was stopped on the Silverwood Road and when it was searched, officers uncovered a First World War Mauser semi-automatic pistol under the back seat.

Arrested and interviewed Collins refused to answer police questions including whether or not he was carrying the gun "for the Continuity IRA" or if he was their "fall guy".

Last month, Collins pleaded guilty to having the gun under suspicious circumstances.

The judge said that, despite its age, the gun was in a "fair to good condition" and due to the presence of residue in the barrel, it had clearly been fired previously.

In assessing the potential danger Collins poses, the judge revealed that he has convictions for causing a bomb hoax, arson, hijacking and taking photographs in court, adding that in his view, there has been an "escalation" in his level of criminality in recent years.

"The defendant is someone who is prepared to involve himself in confrontation, bravado and violence to frighten and intimidate," the judge said, adding that taken together with his having a gun, "the defendant does present a significant risk of serious harm to members of the public in the future".