NewsNorthern Ireland

Marine held over dissident terrorism was victim of sectarian attack in 2002

Kieran Maxwell pictured in 2002 after his attack
Kieran Maxwell pictured in 2002 after his attack
Ciaran Maxwell serves with 40 Commando based in Taunton
Ciaran Maxwell serves with 40 Commando based in Taunton

A British Army marine, Ciaran Maxwell, who is currently being questioned by police in relation to dissident republican terrorism was the victim of a brutal sectarian assault in Larne in 2002.

Mr Maxwell, who was only 16 at the time of the attack, suffered a fractured skull.

The 30-year-old from Larne, who served with 40 Commando based in Taunton, was detained on Wednesday in Somerset by officers from the Metropolitan Police Service's Counter Terrorism Command.

It is believed that Mr Maxwell was arrested in relation to the discovery of two arms dumps linked to dissident republicans which were found in Larne this year.

Mr Maxwell, was walking along the Old Glenarm Road towards the Seacourt area at around 2am on June 30, 2002, when a gang of loyalists attacked him.

Maxwell said that he'd seen a group of people he knew to be loyalists gathered at the entrance to the state.

He described being floored with a bottle which was launched by a member of the crowd.

 As got to his feet and tried to escape, he said two car loads of loyalists pulled up armed with bars and golf clubs. 

He was beaten unconscious by the gang before they made off in the cars.

At the time Ciaran's parents spoke out about the attack, saying they felt angry that Larne Catholics were constantly living under threat.

It was also suggested by the republican newspaper An Phoblacht that a British Army patrol arrived and witnessed the attack before driving off without intervening. 

Mr Maxwell, a Royal Marine, was arrested yesterday after properties in Larne and Devon were raided by police.

Back in March the PSNI uncovered a large "terrorist hide" of bomb making components and explosives at Carnfunnock Country Park near Larne.

Then in May, and arms dump was found containing two anti-personnel mines and an armour-piercing rocket at Capanagh Forest.