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Louth man jailed for 10 years for car bomb possession

Louth man jailed for 10 years for car bomb possession

A Louth man has been jailed for 10 years after he was found guilty of the possession of a large car bomb by the Special Criminal Court.

The non-jury court today found Gareth Mulley (45) guilty of possession of the device, which was intercepted near the border last year and was destined for Northern Ireland.

Mulley, of Aisling Park, Dundalk, had pleaded not guilty to the unlawful possession of an explosive substance - PETN and RDX, an adapted 50 litre beer keg, 50 kg of ammonium nitrate homemade explosives, an improvised steel booster tube and an improvised time and power unit at Kilcurry Church, Co Louth on May 25th, 2014.

The court heard that Mulley was arrested after a garda operation against dissident republicans in the Co Louth area involving the Crime and Security Branch and the Special Detective Unit.

He was observed by gardai in the grounds of Kilcurry Church was arrested by members of the Emergency Response Unit after there was a transfer of material from a van to a northern registered Volkswagen Passat car. 

The prosecution case was that the components seized were for a large beer keg bomb that was to be moved to Northern Ireland.

An Army Explosives Ordnance Disposal officer (who cannot be named for security reasons) examined the items found in the car and said it was a “a device in transit, to be placed at a target.”

He said he found Semtex H - the explosive PETN and RDX- in the booster tube and this was a military explosive that was used in the past by the Provisional IRA.

The witness said the items were “a vehicle borne improvised explosive device, commonly known as a car bomb.”

The court also heard evidence from a garda ballistics expert that the improvised time and power unit had a 30-minute delay function. The expert said the beer keg and components had been used in the past in high explosive improvised explosive devices.

At the outset of the case counsel for the defence, Mr Bernard Condon SC, indicated to the court that none of the witnesses in the case would be cross-examined.

Returning judgement this morning (Friday), presiding judge Mr Justice Paul Butler said the court found that Mulley transported the items and was part of an operation to transfer the same from one vehicle to another.

He said it was not an exaggeration on behalf of the prosecution to describe Mulley as having been caught “red handed”.

Called to give evidence today, Detective Sergeant Padraig Boyce told prosecution counsel, Mr Paul Greene SC, that the device had the capacity to result in significant damage to property, as well as injury and loss of life to persons in the immediate vicinity if detonated.

He said the device would have a detonation range of 280 metres.

Det Sgt Boyce confirmed with Mr Greene that the accused has no previous convictions.

Passing sentence, Mr Justice Butler said the bomb was a “very lethal device” that was not designed for any purposed other than to cause damage and could inevitably lead to loss of life.

He said the court had to consider the mitigating factors in the case, and it was significant the accused had no previous convictions and was on evidence a “committed family man” who was heavily involved in soccer in Dundalk.

However, Mr Justice Butler said this had to be set against the fact that this was a “very serious offence” and the court had “no indication whatsoever” as to future intentions.

“In those circumstances there can be no room for suspending any part of the sentence, we regard the matter so seriously,” Mr Justice Butler said.

Mr Justice Butler said the court believed the minimum sentence the court can impose was 10 years, which was backdated to June 1, 2014.

Mr Mulley was also charged with membership of an unlawful organisation within the State, namely Oglaigh na hEireann, otherwise the Irish Republican Army, otherwise the IRA on May 25th, 2014.

Mr Greene asked that the court enter a nolle prosqui - a decision not to proceed – on that count.