Man accused of transporting bag of guns and ammo to meeting with Winston Irvine Irvine granted bail

Workman was granted bail at the High Court in Belfast.

A self-employed joiner who allegedly transported a bag of guns and ammunition to a meeting with the leading loyalist Winston Irvine has been granted bail at the High Court.

Robin Workman, 51, is accused of taking part in the weapons handover as part of a suspected paramilitary operation in Belfast last month.

Workman, from Shore Road in Larne, faces firearms charges connected to the seizure.

Ruling that he can be released from custody, Mr Justice O’Hara said: “Police concerns are not unreasonable, nor are they exaggerated, but he is entitled to the presumption of innocence.”

Earlier this week the judge also granted bail to Irvine, 47, of Ballysillan Road in Belfast.

Winston Irvine Credit: Presseye

Both men are charged with possessing a firearm and ammunition in suspicious circumstances, possessing a prohibited firearm, possession of a handgun without a certificate, and having ammunition without a certificate.

Previous courts heard police were in the Glencairn area on June 8, planning to arrest Irvine for an unrelated matter.

Workman then allegedly pulled up in a van, got out and interacted with his high-profile co-accused.

Officers stopped Irvine’s car a short time later at Disraeli Street and discovered two suspected pistols, an air gun, magazines and more than 200 rounds of ammunition inside a leather Calvin Klein holdall in the boot of the vehicle, according to the prosecution.

He denies knowing anything about the contents of the bag.

Workman was arrested the same day following a hospital appointment in Ballymena, Co Antrim.

Based on CCTV and forensic evidence, detectives believe he was the driver of the van involved in the exchange.

Police opposed his release from custody, claiming the incident had the “hallmarks of a paramilitary operation”.

Mr Justice O’Hara was also told that a UVF jumper, magazine and books about weapons were found at an address linked to Workman.

Defence counsel stressed that he denies being the driver of the van who took part in the alleged weapons handover.

With CCTV footage said to be obscured, it was contended that the case is limited to weak DNA on the handle of a bag.

Despite Workman’s denials, the judge held that a strong prima facie case was established.

“The suspicions against him have increased by the manner in which the items were wrapped and found in the bags in Mr Irvine’s car,” he said.

“That was added to by the UVF materials and memorabilia found in Mr Workman’s home, and particularly by the fact he had three mobile phones (for which) he has refused to disclose the PIN numbers.”

But based on his “virtually non-existent” criminal record, Mr Justice O’Hara decided to grant bail.

Workman was ordered to report to police three times a week and is expected to comply with any request to provide mobile phone passcodes.

The judge added: “He is to have no contact, directly or indirectly, with Mr Irvine.”