Northern Ireland

Pair jailed for Real IRA gun plot

Paul McCaugherty was found guilty after a non-jury trial
Image caption Paul McCaugherty was found guilty after a non-jury trial

Two men have been jailed for their part in a dissident republican gun smuggling plot which was uncovered after an MI5 sting operation.

Paul McCaugherty, 43, of Beech Court in Lurgan who was found guilty of attempting to import weapons and explosives, was given 20 years.

Dermot Declan Gregory of Concession Road in Crossmaglen, was found guilty of making a Portuguese property available for the purpose of terrorism.

He was sentenced to four years.

During the trial, which concluded in June, the prosecution claimed that during a two-year security services operation between August 2004 and June 2006, McCaugherty, calling himself "Tim", handled money and negotiated deals in locations across Europe.

He believed the men he was meeting were able to procure weapons and explosives but were in fact agents.

How MI5 tricked a Real IRA leader

Jailing McCaugherty at Belfast Crown Court on Friday, Mr Justice Hart said any attempt to purchase and import a large amount of weapons "must be regarded as exceptionally serious because of the potential for murder and destruction on a large scale".

McCaugherty, who once boasted it was his branch of the Real IRA which made up the Omagh bomb which claimed the lives of 29 people, including unborn twins, showed no emotion as he was sentenced.

He had proposed part paying for the arms shipment by the sale of a restaurant in Portugal which was supplied by Gregory.

Mr Justice Hart told Gregory, 42, that "money is the lifeblood of any terrorist organisation, and anyone who makes property available to a terrorist organisation helps that organisation further its objectives of murder and destruction, and the punishment must reflect this".

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