Newry man pleads guilty to arms charges

February 18, 2013

By Christine Keighery

A Newry man has pleaded guilty to possessing an “arsenal of weaponry.”

Christopher McManus from Aileen Terrace, had been due to go on trial at Belfast Crown Court last Wednesday but instead, his lawyer requested that some of the charges be put to him again. McManus entered a guilty plea to six indictments: four firearms related and two terrorist-related charges.

The court heard the fifty six year old engineer plead guilty to possessing eight firearms, including one which was disguised as the removable handle of a walking cane.  He also admitted to having a rifle, component parts of weapons, seven magazines and various ammunition including armour piercing and “dum dum” bullets, all with intent to endanger life.

The defendant also pleaded guilty to conspiring to convert imitation guns into firearms between 2007 and 2010, and a further two charges of possessing property for terrorism purposes and providing property for terrorism purposes.

A plea of guilty to a terrorist fund-raising charge is believed to be the first to be successfully prosecuted in Northern Ireland.

Detectives from PSNI Crime Operations Department uncovered the weaponry haul in outbuildings behind his house in September 2010.  At a previous court hearing McManus admitted that, since 2007, he had been reactivating previously deactivated guns and component parts for firearms on behalf of people he did not name but said he suspected were dissident republicans, connected to the Real IRA.

Judge David McFarland adjourned sentencing until 20th March when pre-sentence probation reports have been compiled. Despite objections from the prosecution, Mr McManus was released on bail.