A man allegedly involved in trying to buy a gun on the ‘dark web’ as part of a gangland feud in Carrickfergus must remain in custody, a High Court judge ruled today (Friday).
Darren Bennett was refused bail amid claims he is linked to the bid to purchase a Glock pistol and ammunition from police posing as an online arms dealer.
The 22-year-old, of Old Shore Road in the Co Antrim town, is charged with attempted possession of a firearm in suspicious circumstances.
He also faces a count of trying to obtain cocaine and MDMA drugs with intent to supply.
Bennett was arrested along with two other men during a PSNI operation earlier this year.
Prosecutors have claimed there had been an agreement to buy two pistols for £2,900 from an apparent trader on underground sites accessed through the dark web.
The handover was to take place at a meeting in Belfast on February 17, the court heard.
But with police having set up the fake arms-selling operation, all three accused were detained within 48 hours.
Mr Justice Horner was told the alleged attempt to buy weapons is connected to an ongoing feud between two rival gangs in Carrickfergus.
Crown lawyer Fiona O’Kane said: “It’s a very serious, high-level investigation.”
She added that police are still unable to gain access to Bennett’s laptop.
Mark Farrell, defending, countered by insisting his client was now being legally advised to co-operate with the probe by supplying computer passwords.
He argued that Bennett should be released to an address outside Carrickfergus due to delays in the case.
Mr Farrell added: “The Carrickfergus feud hasn’t been on the news or bubbling in terms of events every day.
“There have been a lot of people in custody.”
But the judge responded: “That’s one of the reasons to be careful about releasing somebody - I wouldn’t want it reactivated.”
Denying bail, he ruled there had not yet been excessive delay in the case.