Northern Ireland

Armagh woman acquitted of running dissident republican bomb factory

Orla O'Hanlon Image copyright Pacemaker
Image caption Orla O'Hanlon was acquitted of making fertiliser-based explosives and possessing bomb parts and ammunition

A young woman from south Armagh accused of running a bomb-making factory for dissident republicans has been acquitted of all charges.

Her boyfriend was cleared of the majority of the charges.

He was convicted of two separate counts of possessing items in suspicious circumstances.

Orla O'Hanlon, 20, was living with her partner, 21-year-old Keith McConnan, at Tievecrom Road in Forkhill when it was raided by police in December 2013.

Officers found a number of items, including an industrial grinder, fertilizer and a bag containing an improvised mobile phone unit, power supply and a cartridge - items prosecutors claimed could be used for homemade bombs.

Ms O'Hanlon was cleared of all charges at Belfast Crown Court on Wednesday.

Judge Sandra Crawford said there was insufficient evidence to suggest the defendant had any knowledge of the contents of the bag and pointed to the fact that her finger prints were not found on it.

Ms O'Hanlon's solicitor said his client had maintained her innocence from the outset and that she was glad to put the case behind her.

Her partner and co-accused, Keith McConnan, was cleared of the most serious of the charges, including the intention to commit acts of terrorism.

During the trial, he claimed he was being threatened by a prominent dissident republican with links to the Omagh bomb. The judge said there was no direct evidence to support that claim.

Keith McConnan was convicted of two counts of possessing the bag with the mobile phone unit and power supply in suspicious circumstances.

Sentencing for these two offences will now take place in June. However, having already spent two and a half years in prison, he is unlikely to receive any further time behind bars.

His legal team told the court they will make an application as early as Friday.

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