Huge weapons stash found

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The Independent Online

One of the biggest arms caches ever seized in Belfast has been uncovered by police after the suicide of a known loyalist weapons expert.

More than 70 weapons, including handguns and rifles, were found at the man's home in the northern surburb of Ballysillan after he shot himself last weekend. Thousands of rounds of ammunition were also recovered.

Billy "Black Neck" Bell, who was in his 50s and had known links to the Ulster Volunteer Force, died in hospital after apparently shooting himself when told he had cancer. News of the weapons find emerged yesterday as his funeral was taking place.

Mr Bell is said to have been skilled at converting replica firearms into functioning guns. The weapons found at his home are being examined by ballistics experts to establish whether any were used in unsolved shootings.

In May last year, the UVF said it was going out of business as a terrorist group and promised to put its guns "beyond reach". However, it refused to define exactly what that meant.