Saturday 24 June 2017

Royal Marine who turned to terrorism had suffered sectarian beating as child

Ciaran Maxwell Picture: PA
Ciaran Maxwell Picture: PA

Dean Gray

A Royal Marine from Northern Ireland has pleaded guilty to offences related to dissident republican terrorism, including bomb-making and storing weapons.

Ciaran Maxwell (31) from Larne, Co Antrim, appeared via video link from Woodhill jail at the Old Bailey in London and spoke only to confirm his name and enter guilty pleas to all the charges.

Maxwell was arrested on August 24 by officers from the Metropolitan Police Service's counter-terrorism command after the discovery of two dissident republican arms dumps near Larne.

According to the charge details, he had a stash of explosives in purpose-built hides in England and Northern Ireland.

He compiled a library of terrorism documents, including instructions on how to make explosives and tactics used by terrorist organisations.

He also had maps, plans and lists of potential targets for a terrorist attack and images of an adapted Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) pass card and a PSNI uniform.

Read More: 'Significant' terrorist materials uncovered in 12 searches after arrest of Irish Royal Marine

He bought chemicals and components and went on to manufacture explosives and devices, the court heard.

Maxwell was also charged with possessing images of bank cards for fraud and possessing cannabis with intent to supply.

In March the PSNI uncovered a "significant terrorist hide" including bomb-making paraphernalia at Carnfunnock Country Park near Larne.

In May it uncovered a further collection of explosives and bomb parts at Capanagh Forest, also close to Larne.

Maxwell was remanded in custody to be sentenced on a date to be fixed.

It emerged last year that as a 16-year-old, Ciaran Maxwell was the victim of a savage sectarian beating in his home town.

He sustained a fractured skull and suffered multiple other injuries when a gang of loyalists attacked him with iron bars and golf clubs.

During his recovery he recounted the incident to republican newspaper An Phoblacht in an article that was accompanied by a picture showing the extent of his injuries.

It has also emerged that the extensive search operation carried out on behalf of the Metropolitan Police at the end of last year cost £1.1m (€1.27m).

Police were asked to search Exeter woodland in August after the arrest of Maxwell.

The search took 34,000 officer hours, or 2,800 officer days, and 70 miles of blue and white police cordon tape was used during the operation.

The figures revealed following a BBC Freedom of Information request show the operation involved 2,000 nights of accommodation and 8,500 meals.

Irish Independent

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