Arms plot accused's group built Omagh bomb, court told

6 May 2010
Belfast Telegraph

AN ALLEGED Real IRA member boasted to an undercover MI5 operative that his organisation had built the 1998 Omagh bomb -- but gave it away to "others", a court has heard.

Belfast Crown Court heard Lurgan republican Paul McCaugherty, on trial over a suspected arms smuggling plot, told the operative that the device which killed 29 people was given to a separate dissident organisation which had "screwed it up".

McCaugherty is one of three men arrested following a two-year MI5 sting operation who have gone on trial accused of involvement in an international Real IRA gun smuggling plot.

Paul Anthony John McCaugherty (43), from Beech Court, Desmond Paul Kearns (44), from Tannaghmore Green, both in Lurgan, and 41-year-old Dermot Declan Gregory, aka Michael Dermot, from Concession Road in Crossmaglen, deny a total of seven charges.

McCaugherty faces all seven charges -- conspiring to possess firearms and explosives and using almost EUR 46,000 (Pounds 39,000) for terrorist purposes, membership of 'the Irish Republican Army' and making the deeds of a Portuguese restaurant available for the purposes of terrorism.

Kearns is accused with him of conspiring to possess firearms and explosives, while Gregory is accused of making the deeds of the Alvor restaurant in Portugal available for the purposes of terrorism.

Prosecuting QC Gordon Kerr said the sting operation began in August 2004 and ended with the arrest of the trio in June 2006.

Mr Kerr said "the initial part of the operation commenced with a role player used by Security Services who was and will be referred to as Amir".

The lawyer said that Amir, supplied with a photograph of Kearns, approached him with a deal to supply goods, in particular cheap cigarettes.

Over the coming months and year the two met, mainly in Irish bars in Amsterdam, Brussels and Bruges.

However by September 2005 Kearns allegedly agreed to meet with a friend of Amir's from Pakistan called Ali, who was also an undercover operative.

Kearns allegedly said the organisation had EUR 100,000, or dollars, to spend and during a discussion on Northern Ireland said "they had to do something to re-start things".

Mr Kerr claimed that Kearns finally introduced McCaugherty to Ali, through Amir, after which he had no further dealings with Ali.

The lawyer said that McCaugherty met with Ali on a number of occasions, even travelling to Istanbul in Turkey to allegedly discuss the supply of arms and munitions and their transportation.

McCaugherty said he needed "explosives, pistols, AK 47s, armour piercing stuff, snipers, cords and dets".

At hearing.

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