Man in 'dire financial circumstances' allowed storage of explosive-device parts at his home

CourtsBy Sunday World
Central Criminal Court
Central Criminal Court

A Longford man in "dire financial circumstances" who facilitated the construction of an improvised explosive device at his home has been sentenced by the Special Criminal Court to two and a half years in prison.

The court heard that Paul Dodd (29) had accommodated the storage of parts of the device at his home for the promise of money. 

In April, Dodd, with an address at St Matthews Park, Ballymahon, Co Longford, pleaded guilty to possession of the component parts of an improvised explosive device (IED), including assorted shotgun cartridges, shotgun propellant, a length of cardboard tube and clingfilm at his home on June 24 last year.

Dodd also pleaded guilty to the possession of approximately 30 assorted shotgun cartridges at the same address, also on the same date.

His co-accused, Brendan Hope (49) of Springfield Cottages, Mullingar, Co Westmeath, was jailed last month by the same court for three years for possession of an IED.

Hope had pleaded guilty to possession of an IED containing shotgun propellant powder, a 12-gauge shotgun cartridge, a 71mm length of cardboard tube, an igniferous fuse, clingfilm and a hair bobbin at Dodd's home, also on June 24 last year.

Today, Detective Inspector William Hanrahan, of the Special Detective Unit (SDU), summarized the facts of the case. 

He told prosecuting counsel Ronan Kennedy BL that in June last year, members of the SDU and Crime and Security Unit (CSU) were investigating suspected dissident activity in the Longford area when they received information that the IRA were using Dodd's home at St Matthew's Park to construct an explosive device. 

On the day of the offences, the court heard, members of CSU were carrying out a surveillance operation at St Matthew's Park when Hope was observed leaving Dodd's house and driving away in a Peugeot van. 

Gardai intervened, searched the van and found an IED, Det Insp Hanrahan told the court.  

Having obtained a search warrant, Detective Sergeant Padraig Boyce, also of the SDU, entered Dodd's house by force. 

The house was without electricity and in a very bad condition, the court heard.  

There were two men in the kitchen. Det Sgt Boyce saw evidence of the construction of an explosive device, including two black gloves, aluminium piping and a Thomas the Tank Engine breakfast bowl containing shotgun propellant. 

Another detective found 30 assorted shotgun cartridges.

Det Insp Hanrahan told the court that these items were the makings of an IED, corresponding with what had been found in Hope's van.  

Dodd's fingerprints were found on the bowls, the court also heard.  

Dodd was arrested and taken to Granard garda station. He took responsibility for all of the items at his home and said that the other man in the kitchen had nothing to do with it. 

He told the guards he wanted money to "reconnect his electricity and to have a drink," Det Insp Hanrahan said.  

The court heard that Dodd has no previous convictions. 

Under cross-examination, Det Insp Hanrahan told Grainne McMorrow SC, representing Dodd, that her client "facilitated what was going on for the promise of some financial benefit". 

The detective said, "He just basically accommodated what was going on." 

Ms McMorrow further submitted that her client was a man "in dire financial circumstances who had accepted the promise of money". 

Sentencing the man, Mr Justice Paul Butler, presiding with Judge Alison Lindsay and Judge Flann Brennan, said that Dodd's level of involvement in the operation was not quite the same as Hope's. 

The court sentenced Dodd to two and a half years in prison, with one year suspended.

Previously, Dodd had also been charged with IRA membership. The State entered a nolle prosequi on that charge. 

Daniel Hickey