20/10/2008

'Gun Haul Not UVF's': PUP

Although a spokesman who acts as the UVF's intermediary with General John de Chastelain's arms decommissioning body, has strongly denied a link to the illegal paramilitary group, the police investigation in to an arms haul found after a man shot himself last week is still following that line of enquiry.

The PUP's Billy Hutchinson has told the media that the dead man was not a member of the UVF or that the weapons belonged to the organisation.

Mr Hutchinson said that the north Belfast gun expert who shot himself was instead selling weapons that he converted to fire live ammunition purely for profit.

Billy Bell, who was in his 50s, is thought to have killed himself with one of the more than 70 weapons found in his house in Ballysillan following his death, along with more than a thousand rounds of ammunition.
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More weapons were subsequently discovered in lock-up premises in the Crumlin area.

The deceased, who security forces hinted had links to the UVF, activated imitation guns to sell on to criminals and various paramilitary groups.

It has been claimed that he charged between £300 and £400 for a reactivated weapon.

The dead man, who was described as a gun fanatic, also had a paintballing and combat games business and collected militaria.

He also bought and sold ex-military vehicles for collectors and it is thought he used these pursuits to help cover his illegal activities.

Bell was suffering from cancer and that was said to be the main reason for his suicide.

See: 'UVF' Weapons Cache Seized In Ballysillan

(BMcC)

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