Northern Ireland

Kevin Nolan jailed for storing Semtex and guns in Belfast

Kevin Nolan Image copyright Alan Lewis
Image caption Kevin Nolan's name will appear of the anti-terror list for 15 years

A man who stored Semtex, guns and bullets for dissident republicans at his parents' Belfast home has been jailed for three-and-a-half years.

Kevin Nolan, from Stewartstown Road in west Belfast, moved to England days after receiving the items.

He was arrested in September 2015 when the haul was discovered at the house on Ballymurphy Road in west Belfast.

Nolan will spend a further three-and-a-half years on licence following his release from prison.

His name will also be placed on an anti-terrorist list for 15 years.

Image copyright PSNI
Image caption The judge said the semtex could have created a 'large and destructive device'

Passing sentence at Belfast Crown Court, the judge said the amount of Semtex found could have been used to create a "large and destructive device", but accepted Nolan had been "passively storing the items for potential future use" by others.

Despite initially denying all the offences and claiming he found a bag containing what he thought was drugs and money, Nolan now admits that when he worked in a taxi company, he was approached and asked to keep the items.

The Semtex was discovered along with two guns, detonators and assorted ammunition during a police search which took place on 17 September 2015.

Image copyright PSNI
Image caption More than 300 bullets were found during the search

Among the items was a holdall containing a Baikai gas pistol, a revolver and silencer and more than 300 bullets, as well as 651g of Semtex - enough to make three under-vehicle improvised explosive devices.

Also found were two improvised detonators, a black balaclava and a large plastic tub containing more rounds of ammunition.

Image copyright PSNI
Image caption One of two improvised detonators found by the police

Nolan's barrister told the court he was approached by dissident republicans while he was a taxi driver and asked to store the items.

The barrister also said that while on remand for the offences, Nolan never asked to be moved to the republican wing, and was amongst the general prison population.

Image copyright PACEMAKER
Image caption Nolan had no previous convictions

She told the court that her client had no criminal record, that "he was never arrested in his life before for any reason," and that as a result of events Nolan has been the subject of several threats.

An intelligence-led search operation in September 2015 had uncovered a "significant cache of explosives, weapons and ammunition all hidden in various rooms" of the house on Ballymurphy Road in west Belfast.

Nolan, who was living in England at the time, was arrested under the Terrorism Act and brought back to Northern Ireland for interview, when he claimed he had no knowledge or involvement with the items, said Det Insp Adrian Brown, from the PSNI's Serious Crime Unit.

"At one stage he said he had found a bag containing the cache while walking alone in the City Cemetery.

"He said he seen two men, one who was carrying a large plastic bag, which they left at a hedge.

"Kevin Nolan stated he had taken the bag believing it contained drugs or money and he didn't know there were firearms and munitions until he looked inside once he had arrived at his parents' home where he lived at the time."

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