A “RRELUCTANT store man” who was caught red handed with a small arsenal of weaponry has been jailed for more than three years.

Some of the weapons found on Thomas John Edwards. He was jailed yesterday for six and a half years, with half spent on licence.

Belfast Recorder Judge David McFarland told 49-year-old Thomas John Edwards he accepted he had been under a degree of pressure from others to become a “reluctant store man” for the items. He sentenced him to six and a half years with half spent on licence. Just before his trial was due to start last July EEdwards, from Tullygalley in Craigavon, pleaded guilty to having guns, ammunition and explosives with intent to enable others to endanger life on 10 August 2011. Edwards also admitted possessing a balaclava for terrorist purposes and providing his home, for terrorism. Prosecuting QC Ciaran Murphy told Belfast Crown Court that in an intelligence led operation, police searched Edwards home and uncovered the items at locations in the house.

An AK47 assault rifle along with numerous bullets were found. The grip stock and trigger mechanism for a recoil less improvised grenade launcher was uncovered in a bag in the kitchen cupboard while 5.1 grammes of black arms propellant was hidden inside s pepper pot. Mr Murphy said that wrapped in a yellow in a yellow duster in the same cupboard was an automatic Beretta pistol with a loaded magazine. He added that in total, police found 46 bullets and told the court how small arms propellant was commonly used in pipe bombs while a grenade launcher was first used in an attack in Belfast in May 1991 but “has been encountered on a number of other occasions”. Following the sentencing, PSNI Detective Superintendent Glenn Wright of Serious Crime Branch said: “Mr Edwards is in jail, the weapons are off the streets. This is yet aanother example of the PSNI’s determination to protect the community and bring terrorists to justice.”

With many thanks to : The Irish News.


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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