Jail for man found with explosives in Dublin hotel

Finnstown House Hotel
Finnstown House Hotel

A Northern Ireland man has been sentenced by the Special Criminal Court to six years in prison for possession of an explosive substance.

During his three-week trial in February, the non-jury court heard evidence from members of the Special Detective Unit that the convicted man, Samuel Devlin (58), was a bomb maker for the IRA. 

Devlin, with an address at Golf Suite, Finnstown House Hotel, Lucan, Co Dublin was found guilty last month of the unlawful possession of the explosive substance (PETN) at the same address on May 11th, 2014.

Yesterday, summarizing the facts of the case, Detective Inspector William Hanrahan, of the Special Detective Unit, told the court that in May, 2014, detectives received information about IRA activity in the Lucan area, including the movement of explosives.

On May 11th, on foot of a warrant, detectives searched a room at Finnstown House Hotel in Lucan and found three rolls of detonator cord, measuring 26 metres in total, wrapped inside a towel inside a laptop bag, the court heard. 

Forensic examination of the cords' core revealed PETN, a high-grade explosive, the detective told the court. 

Devlin was in the room at the time of the search and was arrested. While in detention, he denied possession or knowledge of the explosive substance, Det Insp Hanrahan said.  

The court heard that Devlin has no previous convictions.

Detective Hanrahan told presiding judge Mr Justice Paul Butler that the rolls of detonator cord would be "like three hand grenades if they went off".

Mr Justice Butler said that the cords were "high-grade explosive but in effect a fuse".

Bernard Condon SC, for Devlin, submitted to the court that the connection between his client and the explosive substance was "of limited nature".

Giving sentence, Mr Justice Butler said that during the trial there was "a lot of background evidence of a car bomb in the area". 

That evidence, however, did not form part of the court's deliberation when sentencing, the judge added.  

The judge said that the offence, which has a maximum prison sentence of 14 years, is serious.  

Devlin's six-year jail sentence was backdated to when he was first arrested, in May 11th, 2014.

By Daniel Hickey