1. ITV Report

Larne feud accused had weapons ‘for peace of mind’

The accused was denied a change of bail address which would have allowed him to return to Larne. Credit: UTV

A Larne man caught with weapons in his car has claimed he had them for “peace of mind” and denies any link to an ongoing loyalist feud in the Co Antrim town.

The High Court heard on Friday that police believe 41-year-old Alan Cowan, from Sallagh Park Central, had the butterfly knife and extendable baton to carry out an attack amid the tensions.

The accused is currently out on bail to an address outside Larne, but was seeking permission to return to his family home.

The court heard Cowan was arrested in the early hours of 22 April after police, who were in the area to carry out a search at his home, spotted him and three other men in a vehicle parked nearby.

Officers seized the baton and five-inch blade from the car, which was registered to Cowan.

He faces two charges of possessing offensive weapons in a public place.

According to a Crown lawyer, the investigation relates to a series of tit-for-tat revenge incidents stemming from an initial assault in the town.

Police believe the four males, including the applicant (Cowan) had these weapons for the common purpose of carrying out some form of attack connected to the recent tensions in the Larne area.

– Crown prosecution

In a prepared statement, Cowan - who denies any loyalist links - accepted the baton and knife belonged to him.

The court was told he claimed to have bought them at a market without knowing they were illegal and that he said he had them “for peace of mind, but had no intention of actually using them”.

It was put to the judge that any easing of tensions in the town was connected to Cowan being required to live at another location.

“Police believe this applicant is involved and influential within loyalist circles in Larne,” the prosecutor said.

Cowan’s defence lawyer insisted there was no evidence linking his client to any feud.

“He doesn't have any offences suggesting any paramilitary background,” he added.

The lawyer argued that his client is currently allowed to travel back to Larne for work, and that he wants to return home to ease the pressures on his family.

However, denying the application to vary bail, Madam Justice McBride said: “I'm not satisfied the condition is no longer required.”