A MAN who achieved the top place in the country for his Junior Certificate engineering project was jailed for nine years after he was caught "virtually red-handed" with bomb-making equipment at an apartment.
Cormac Fitzpatrick (23), of Cathedral Walk in Monaghan, Co Monaghan; and another man, Terry McConnell (26), from Co Fermanagh but with an address at Tullymore Gardens in Andersonstown, Belfast, were convicted last December of unlawfully possessing explosive materials. Both received nine-year sentences.
The explosives were found at a house at The Crescent, Park West Pointe, Clondalkin, Dublin 22, on September 9, 2008.
At the Special Criminal Court, Mr Justice Paul Butler said the offence was of "a very serious nature" and that both men had been caught "virtually red-handed".
The three-judge court said the sentence took into account the fact that neither man had any previous convictions, that they had both been of good character prior to the incident and that they suffered from health problems.
Their trial last year heard how enough explosive material to fully construct four pipe bombs was discovered when members of the Special Detective Unit raided the flat on September 9, 2008.
Among the paraphernalia found in the kitchen were four black pieces of steel piping, nails, bulbs, batteries, surgical gloves and propellant powder.
Seven travel alarm clocks were discovered, some of which had been adapted to act as "timers".
Armed detectives found Fitzpatrick and McConnell in the bathroom, wearing latex gloves.
Also discovered was a clock with wiring coming from it, two batteries and a plate containing an explosive substance that had been scorched or burnt.
The court heard Fitzpatrick, a plumber, had been "an honest and considerate student" while at school.
His former secondary school principal, Frank McManus, said as a teenager, he had achieved the top place in the country for his Junior Certificate engineering project, and second in the country for his Leaving Certificate project.
The court was told that Fitzpatrick did not accept his conviction.
The court backdated McConnell's sentence by four months to account for time already served in custody.
Fitzpatrick's sentence was backdated by two months.