ARTICLES: Police-issued photos of the car in which Thomas Maguire was traveling and the ammunition, gun and coffee-jar-bomb components which were recovered from the vehicle and during related searches.
A 70-year-old former paramilitary prisoner who “just can’t seem to let go of the past” has been jailed for six and a half years after police “fortuitously” found a coffee-jar bomb and guns in his car. Thomas Maguire, from Suffolk Drive in West Belfast – who was jailed for 20 years in 1975 for having explosives with intent to endanger life – was caught with the items when police stopped his Ford Mondeo after a high-speed chase in August 2011.
Kate McKay, prosecuting, told Belfast Crown Court that police uncovered a coffee-jar bomb, component parts of other bombs and a wide variety of guns, 100 rounds of assorted bullets and suspected shotgun propellant. Officers were led to Maguire’s home address after his fingerprint was found on the sliding mechanism of a semi-automatic pistol found during searches in Nearly in September 2010 when police raided a firearms workshop. In March Bryan McManus (56), from Aileen Terrace in Newry, was also jailed for six and a half years after the engineer admitted that he had been involve in reactivating weaponry for dissident republicans. Ms McKay said during two days of questioning, Maguire refused to answer questions but he later pleaded guilty to seven offences of having the firarms and explosives with intent to endanger life and under suspicious circumstances, and having articles for use in terrorism on August 2 2011. He also admitted having a semi-automatic pistol which was found during the Newry searches, also with intent and under suspicious circumstances on dates between September 2007 and September 2010.
“Police would accept that if his print had not been found in the workshop [ of McManus ], effectively they would not have become aware but officers are concerned about the nature of the weapons and the use that they have been put to in recent years,” Ms McKay said, adding that although Maguire’s criminal record is old, “it is significant”. Frank O’Donoghue QC, defending, said it was a “most unusual and striking case” that a man “of his age if not his dotage is involving himself in something that’s really now beyound his capacity”. “He seems to dwell in the past,” Mr O’Donoghue said. He said Maguire had the weaponry more “to protect his ccommunity” rather than any attack on security personnel. The lawyer said Maguire had access to the weaponry through involvement with a west Belfast museum to commemorate the Troubles. Judge McFarland told Maguire he seemed “to be someone who just can’t let go of the past”. “This isn’t just a case of a pike in a thatch, that doesn’t apply to modern Ireland. We have now moved on but sadly, you are not moving on with the times,” she said. Following sentencing, Detective Superintendent Glenn Branch, from the Serious Crime Branch, said police would leave “no stone unturned in our efforts to bring before the courts all those involved in terrorist-linked offences, regardless of age”. Police yesterday released photographs of the items found in Maguire’s car but when asked for a photograph of the pensioner, a PSNI spokesman said they did not believe releasing a image “of the defendant is appropriate or proportionate in this instance”.
With many thanks to : The Irish News.
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