IRA bomber had mobile phone in maximum security jail
A CONVICTED Real IRA bomber, who took part in a terrorist campaign in England, has been given an additional jail sentence for possessing a mobile phone in Portlaoise Prison.
Gardai launched a criminal investigation after 35-year-old Aiden Hulme was found with the phone in his cell on the dissident republican wing of the maximum security jail.
Hulme, of Point Road, Bellurgan, Dundalk, Co Louth, was serving the remainder of a 20-year jail sentence imposed at the Old Bailey in London in April 2003.
He was transferred back to Portlaoise Prison in 2006 and was due for release in September 2016.
But at a sitting of Portlaoise District Court last week he was convicted of illegal possession of a mobile phone and sentenced to an additional three months in prison.
Judge Catherine Staines noted the nature of Hulme's conviction and said "this is a very serious matter, having a phone in a prison".
Pointing out that concurrent sentences were no deterrent to prisoners already serving a jail term, she ordered that the three months sentence should commence from his release date.
The court was told that Hulme had been co-operative when he was questioned by Garda William Delaney.
Hulme was also disciplined by the prison authorities and was denied phone calls and personal visits for several weeks as a punishment.
Hulme and his brother Robert were part of a Real IRA bombing team sent to England in 2001.
Their first attack was outside the BBC television centre in Shepherd's Bush in London in March 2001. The following August the terrorists struck near the Ealing Broadway tube station in west London and the final attack was in Smallbrook, Queensway, Birmingham, three months later.
Nobody was killed even though the Ealing blast was close to a packed pub. But the bombs injured several victims and caused damage costing millions of pounds.
The three devices were created with home-made explosive mixtures, had similar timing mechanisms and were each left in vehicles.
The bombers were uncovered during an undercover British Customs and Excise investigation into a fuel laundering scam.
They were using remote farmhouses for "diesel washing" of agricultural diesel.
Customs officers alerted Scotland Yard's anti-terrorist branch and when armed officers swooped on a farm in west Yorkshire, they discovered a car bomb that was being prepared for a fourth attack.