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Last Updated: Wednesday, 10 December, 2003, 14:08 GMT
Guns 'were to repel Russians'
The weapons were seized at a house in County Down
The weapons were seized at a house in County Down
A man built up an armoury in County Down to repel soldiers from an invading Russian force, a court has heard.

Leslie Cyril Barstow was said to have told police the guns he is accused of storing were to be used against a Soviet army during the Cold War.

The 58-year-old from Manchester said he built up his armoury and a stockpile of food to equip a small resistance unit.

He was arrested last week after police found the guns and ammunition in a house at Dromore Road, Banbridge.

The defendant appeared in court last Friday charged with possessing 11 guns and thousands of bullets in suspicious circumstances and was remanded in custody.

When he applied for bail in the High Court in Belfast on Wednesday, a prosecution lawyer said police were alerted after Mr Barstow's ex-partner told them that her home-help had found ammunition in his belongings.

He said that when the threat of invasion subsided he intended to hand over the weapons to the authorities, but did not do so because of mistrust of the amnesty system
Crown lawyer

"Police found 10 long-arm weapons, two flare guns and approximately 6,000 rounds of ammunition along with a substantial quantity of American-style military equipment," said the lawyer.

"All the weapons were in good condition. Nine were carefully packed and each package had a self-adhesive label describing the contents."

'Resistance unit'

The court heard Mr Barstow went to Banbridge police station and read from a prepared statement in which he said: "At the height of the Cold War I felt I should be prepared to take a 'Minuteman' role (an irregular volunteer mustered to repel an invasion).

"At no point were my actions co-ordinated. I simply took on the responsibility for creating a small stockpile of equipment which could have been used to equip a small Home Defence Group in the early days of an invasion by the Soviet Army.

"As a result of the threat of Soviet invasion between 1948 and 1990, I have for almost 30 years kept a stock of arms, food and equipment with the intention of equipping a small resistance unit such as I have described."

The defendant told police he acquired the weapons in the 1970s at arms fairs and from dealers in England and they were legally held.

The lawyer added: "He said that when the threat of invasion subsided he intended to hand over the weapons to the authorities, but did not do so because of mistrust of the amnesty system.

"He has indicated that the responsibility of the weapons has been a burden and police do not believe there will be a recurrence of the offence or that there is any risk to witnesses."

Mr Justice Reginald Weir told Mr Barstow, a part-time telesales employee with United Airlines in Dublin: "Normally this type of offence would not attract bail but in view of the attitude of the prosecution I am going to grant you bail."

He released the defendant on his own bail of 750 with two sureties of 3,000 each and ordered him to live at his mother's address in Greater Manchester.





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