Northern Ireland

Man has 'addiction' to making and firing guns, court hears

A retired engineer facing firearms charges has "an addiction" to making and firing guns, a court has heard.

David Cunningham, of Castlereagh Parade in east Belfast, discharged improvised weapons as part of a fascination with their construction and operation, a judge was told.

The 63-year-old was remanded in custody on eight charges, including possession of handguns, zip guns and stun guns.

Cunningham was arrested after police searched his house on Monday.

He is also accused of having explosive substances in suspicious circumstances, possession of ammunition, and discharging a firearm in public.

Officers seized nine zip guns and handguns, four stun guns and a large quantity of bullets and shotgun cartridges.

Some of the items were found under bedroom floorboards.


A detective told Belfast Magistrates' Court that Mr Cunningham had admitted during interview to buying and adapting the weapons.

She said: "He stated he has tried to throw these out, but feels he has an addiction to possessing and constructing these weapons."

Material was either bought or retrieved from skips, the court heard.

The judge was told that Cunningham admitted carrying a loaded weapon along a coastal pathway at Crawfordsburn in County Down, and testing live rounds at sea.

He also allegedly fired into the air in a built-up residential area.

The detective said Cunningham also admitted having a silencer that he attached to zip guns before discharging in his own home to check for noise reduction.

"He has endangered himself and anyone in the vicinity when discharging these firearms," she added.


A defence solicitor said his client had gained his knowledge of firearms during a 10-year engineering career.

"He would describe it as a hobby and something of a fascination," he said.

"He's getting information obtained from the internet and using it to make zip guns and test fire them."

The solicitor said Mr Cunningham is blind in one eye and has only 65% vision in the other eye.

The judge refused bail, ruling that there was a high risk to the public and a strong likelihood of re-offending.

Mr Cunningham is due to appear before the court again by video-link on 10 June.