Newspaper for Crossmaglen, South Armagh, Newry and Down.

Bomb-making accused to be released after serving sentence on remand

Dundalk man, Keith McConnan, who was caught with a Timer Power Unit in his rented bungalow in Forkhill has been given a five year sentence for the terrorist offence.

Because of the time he has already served on remand in Hydebank YOC, McConnan is due to be released this week, with the remainder of his sentence to be spent on supervised licence.

The 21 year old was arrested along with girlfriend Orla O’Hanlon in December 2013 after a search of their rented bungalow on the Tievecrom Road in Forkhill carried out by officers acting under the Justice and Security Act, uncovered a number of items including an industrial grinder, a complete Timer Power Unit and a quantity of crushed ammonium nitrate fertiliser.

The couple were arrested and subsequently charged with a number of terrorist-related offences, standing trial late last year at Belfast Crown Court.

Ms O’Hanlon was acquitted of all 10 charges she faced, while McConnan – who originally faced nine charges – was found guilty of two offences and cleared of the others. The trial had heard that during the search of the bungalow, officers located a plastic bag in a wardrobe in the couple’s bedroom containing an improvised mobile phone-operated switch unit and portable power supply as well as a reloaded cartridge.

McConnan was found guilty of possessing the TPU and the cartridge in suspicious circumstances.

Passing sentence on those offences on Friday, Judge Crawford said that even though McConnan did not face any charges linked to membership of an unlawful organisation, the offences “clearly” included a “terrorist element”.

She described TPUs as potentially lethal weapons which had “no innocent purpose” and added that the people of Northern Ireland have “resolved to put violent terrorism behind them.” The judge warned that anyone participating in, facilitating or supporting such acts of terror would be punished by the courts.