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'Aladdin's Cave' Antrim man confesses to having arsenal of potentially explosive materials and bomb manuals

The police seized weaponry including a plethora of chemicals and fertilisers, bombs parts, bullets, a huge number of bladed weapons and an 8mm replica gun which Templeton had tried to convert into a working firearm

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The trial of a Ballymena man who had an arsenal of potentially lethal explosive materials and instruction manuals in how to construct bombs was halted today after he confessed.

On the third day of the trial at Antrim Crown Court, defence QC Eilish McDermott asked for all ten of the charges to be put to 36-year-old Robert Templeton again.

Standing in the dock before the jury, Templeton said simply “guilty” when each of the charges were put to him.

Templeton, from Shancoole in Ballymena, admitted having explosive substances and three different types of ammunition under suspicious circumstances, attempting to convert an imitation gun into a working firearm, importing a friction lock baton, possessing a stun gun and possessing three different documents likely to be of use to a person “committing or preparing an act of terrorism”, all committed on various dates between 12 March 2015 and 5 July 2019.

The jury heard agreed evidence that during a half day search at Templeton’s former home in Glarryford just outside Ballymena on 5 July 2019, the police seized what was described as “an Aladdin’s cave” of weaponry including a plethora of chemicals and fertilisers, bombs parts such as pipes, end caps and fuses, tools, electrical components, bullets, a huge number of bladed weapons including swords, knives and a trident and an 8mm replica gun which Templeton had tried to convert into a working firearm.

In addition, Templeton also had three documents likely to be of use to terrorists including a US Army Improvised Munitions Handbook, Expedient Homemade Firearms and one entitled 'The Zip Gun...the simplest of improvised firearms'.

What the jury did not hear however was that at one stage, Templeton’s wife 34-year-old wife Natasha, a classroom assistant, had also been charged as a co-accused but the PPS withdrew charges against her.

Following Mr Templeton’s dock confessions, Judge Patricia Smyth thanked the jury for their service “in these difficult circumstances” and excused them from ever having to do further jury duty.

Turning back to the defendant and the issue of sentencing, she granted defence applications for a pre-sentence probation report and to free Templeton on continuing bail pending sentence.

Prosecuting QC Samuel Magee told the judge he would forward the agreed statements of facts to the PBNI to assist them in their reports and revealed that he will also be giving consideration whether to apply for a Violent Offences Prevention Order given the nature of Templeton’s offences.

Adjourning the plea and sentence to 13 May, Judge Smyth freed Templeton on bail but warned him “that is not an indication of the ultimate sentence that the court will impose.”

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