RIRA gun run plotter gets 20yrs after sting

Paul McCaugherty / Dermot Gregory
2 October 2010 
The Sun
Jason Johnson

A SENIOR Real IRA terrorist was starting a 20-year prison sentence last night after being snared in an MI5 sting operation.

Paul Anthony John McCaugherty, 44, struck a deal with an undercover agent as he plotted to import guns and explosives into the UK.

Mr Justice Anthony Hart told Belfast Crown Court the attempt to import the weapons was "exceptionally serious because of the potential for murder and destruction on a large scale". McCaugherty, of Lurgan, Co Armagh, showed no emotion as he was jailed alongside co-accused Dermot Declan Gregory, 42. Gregory, of Crossmaglen, Co Armagh, was given four years for making a property in Portugal available for the purposes of terrorism. (The Panda Restaurant in Alvor, Portugal)


As he was led away, burly McCaugherty raised one arm to friends and family in the heavily guarded courtroom. The court heard he set out to buy a substantial quantity of weapons and explosives in Europe on behalf of the Real IRA.

He was introduced to a person he knew as Ali who he believed was a genuine arms dealer but was really an MI5 agent.

McCaugherty agreed to buy 100kg of plastic explosives, 28 AK assault rifles, 20 rocket-propelled grenade launchers, ten sniper rifles and two pistols.

During his negotiations with Ali he handed over £45,970 in cash as part payment for the weapons. Mr Justice Hart said he was satisfied McCaugherty was acting as a senior member of the Real IRA.

The sentencing came in the week after Home Secretary Theresa May and MI5 warned dissidents plan to bomb Britain.

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