Friday 17 November 2017

Soldier pleads guilty to charges linked to dissident Irish republican terrorism

Ciaran Maxwell
Ciaran Maxwell
Ciaran Maxwell

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

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 the discovery of two dissident republican arms dumps near Larne, County Antrim.

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.

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.

Background

Anti-terror operation linked to Marine cost £1.1m (€1.27m)

The extensive search operation carried out near Exeter on behalf of the Metropolitan Police at the end of last year cost Devon and Cornwall Police £1.1m (€1.27m).

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

The cost includes £660,000 (€765,145) ( Devon and Cornwall had to pay other forces to borrow officers to help with the search, while also paying its own staff £320,000 (€370,980) in overtime.

The cost of hotel bills for the 18-day operation amounted to £82,000 (€95,060) and catering added a further £38,000 (€44,052).

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

Royal Marine Ciaran Maxwell 'beaten by Larne loyalists in 2002'

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.

The paper said: "He was struck by a bottle and fell under the blow. Kieran struggled to his feet and despite losing a shoe, tried to run away. At this point up to ten loyalists arrived in two cars.

"This gang was armed with iron bars and golf clubs and they immediately attacked Kieran. He was beaten to the ground and lost consciousness.”

According to the paper, eyewitnesses said that loyalists appeared to have been waiting in ambush and kept beating Ciaran "as he lay prone on the ground".

One local man told the Larne Times at the time: "Ciaran is from a mixed background, his mother is Catholic and dad is Protestant.

"He grew up in the Seacourt estate and was absolutely tortured by the UDA when he was a teenager.

"He was regularly chased off the street by loyalists. On one occasion they gave him a very bad beating and left him in a very bad way."

Ciaran Maxwell charges in full

Ciaran Maxwell was charged with the following offences on 2 September 2016:

Charge 1

Between 1 January 2011 and 24 August 2016, with the intention of assisting another to commit acts of terrorism, engaged in conduct in preparation for giving effect to this intention, namely:

- Research resulting in the creation of a library of documents providing information of a kind likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism specifically information regarding the manufacture of explosive substances, the construction of explosive devices and tactics used by terrorist organisations.

- Purchasing or otherwise obtaining articles for a purpose connected with the commission, preparation or instigation of an act of terrorism. Specifically chemicals and components to be use in the manufacture of explosive substances, the construction of explosive devices; an image of an adapted PSNI pass card; items of PSNI uniform.

- Manufacturing explosive substances.

- Constructing explosive devices.

- Creating and maintaining hides in England and Northern Ireland to store explosive substances, explosive devices, components for explosive devices, ammunition, weapons, tools and resources used during the construction of explosive devices and assorted other items linked to the preparation of an act of terrorism.

Contrary to section 5 Terrorism Act 2006

Charge 2:

On 24 August 2016 had in his possession a quantity of a controlled drug, namely cannabis, with intent to supply it to another.

Contrary to section 5(3) and (4) of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971

Charge 3:

Between 1 November 2015 and 24 August 2016 had in his possession articles, namely images of bank cards and associated CVC numbers, for use in connection with fraud.

Contrary to section 6 Fraud Act 2006

Belfast Telegraph

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