Published Friday, 29 June 2012
Wootton was tagged and given a curfew and banned from public gatherings. (© UTV)
Granting bail to Raymond Wootton, Belfast Crown Court Judge Patrick Lynch QC warned him that if he breached bail conditions, his father John would be liable to lose £25,000 and his brother Brian the £5,000 cash surety he offered as well.
Wootton, aged 42 and from Alliance Avenue in north Belfast, is charged with possessing a Smith and Wesson .38 handgun with intent to endanger life and under suspicious circumstances on dates between 10 May 2009 and 11 January last year.
His nephew is 21-year-old John Paul Wootton who last month was ordered to serve at least 14 years of a life sentence after he was convicted of the murder of Constable Stephen Carroll who was shot and killed by dissident republicans in March 2009.
On Friday, a prosecuting lawyer told the court that Raymond Wootton's DNA profile was found on the handgun and tape wrapping it when officers searched a car body repair premises on the Hannahstown Road in west Belfast on 10 January last year.
The weapon and two rounds of ammunition were found hidden in a sock, wrapped in black insulation tape on the first floor store area of the premises.
Defence lawyer Neil Fox argued that similar black insulation tape is available to buy in the two shops Wootton owns are widely available for use in the taxi depot he owns.
The gun is allegedly traced to two incidents relating to an attempted murder bid on the Deerpark Road in April 2009 and a punishment style shooting in May 2009.
The court heard that as well as the gun and bullets, police also uncovered 344 grammes of explosive Semtex and a CS gas spray cannister - but that Wootton is not charged with possessing those items.
The lawyer said while Wootton is not charged with the other items found in the same "hide," the history of the gun and the nature of all the items found "give a clear indication of a nature connected to dissident republican activity".
The court was also told that Wootton was seen attending a demonstration in support of leading republican Colin Duffy in 2010.
"The concern for this accused is that given the current status of dissident republican violence, he would commit further offences if released on bail and if he were to commit further offences, they would undoubtedly be of a serious nature," submitted the Crown lawyer.
He said the finding of RDX in the footwell of Wootton's car maybe the "most alarming point" but revealed the car was used as a taxi in the course of Wootton's business so could have come from the footwear of any number of passengers.
Wootton has been in custody since last July, a trial is not expected until the New Year.