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Irish boy charged with attempting to possess sub-machine gun and 100 rounds of ammo

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A 14-year-old boy has been charged with attempting to possess a Russian sub-machine gun and 100 rounds of ammunition with intent to endanger life.

A detective said she believed the teenager's intention was to intimidate another person after using the "dark web" in a bid to obtain the lethal haul.

The child was detained in a police operation at the Riverside retail park, in Coleraine, Northern Ireland, on Thursday morning.

He had allegedly handed over £150 for the ammunition to an operative, police said, believing he could further purchase a machine gun.

The offences are alleged to have occurred between March 27 and April 7 this year.

Covert evidence had been obtained and police said they were downloading his online interactions.

The accused, wearing a grey hoodie and red T-shirt, appeared at Ballymena Magistrates' Court flanked by his father and three police officers.

A Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) detective constable told the court: "A suspect believed to reside in Northern Ireland engaged online over the dark web in an attempt to acquire a firearm."

She said covert evidence was obtained between March 23 and April 6 and a meeting was arranged for last Thursday during which the boy handed over £150 cash for 100 rounds of ammunition.

The detective added: "Speaking to the operative the defendant had stated in communications that his intention was to intimidate a third party."

During an interview with police, he provided a pre-prepared statement naming a Jamaican man who he said asked him to collect blank ammunition and a deactivated gun.

He said he ordered these through the dark web, through a selling platform.

The officer said the accused told police he was to collect the deactivated gun in a few days.

She added: "It was in fact a live gun and live ammunition."

She opposed bail, alleging the only reason he was purchasing a gun was to cause serious injury to others.

The detective added: "The account provided was somewhat unbelievable.

"He provided an account that he was purchasing a gun for a male that was a Jamaican national living in Northern Ireland who he was friendly with on Facebook."

She said none of his Facebook friends matched the name given for the 40-year-old friend.

The detective constable said if the child was released he could destroy evidence by deleting any conversations he may have had online.

Defence lawyer Derwin Harvey said there was no evidence presented to support what his client's intent was, and described police assertions as "guesswork".

District judge Liam McNally released the accused on bail of £500 and conditions including staying at home overnight and not possessing a mobile phone or any other internet-enabled device.

He was also ordered to sign in at his school on arrival and departure.

The judge warned him he could be spending months in a juvenile justice centre awaiting trial if he broke any of the conditions.

His case is due to be mentioned in Coleraine Magistrates' Court later this month.