Accused entrapped in MI5 sting operation, court told

Belfast Telegraph
15 June 2010

The prosecution case against one of the three men facing charges arising out of an MI5 sting operation against the Real IRA should be thrown out, a court has heard.

Defence QC Orlando Pownall told trial judge Mr Justice Hart it would be an “abuse of process” to continue with the Belfast Crown Court trial of 44-year-old Desmond Paul Kearns, from Tannaghmore Green, Lurgan.

The London-based lawyer claimed the cigarette smuggler was “entrapped” by MI5 operatives as part of an initial intelligence-gathering operation by the security service against weapons procurment in western Europe by the Real IRA .

Mr Pownell submitted that this was the “most unusual case, if not unique... as it relates to entrapment”.

That entrapment of Kearns, he claimed, was carried out by one of the main prosecution witnesses, known only as ‘Amir’, a secret service “role-playing operative”.

He was described by Mr Pownall as “a clever and trained individual” who used deceit to get his own way and Kearns proved no match for him.

It was Amir, he further claimed, acting as an agent provocateur — using the incentive of cheap cigarettes and the possibility of future rewards — who introduced guns into the conversation.

“To say, do you want guns, we say is entrapment,” said Mr Pownall.

Mr Pownall claimed that “the content of the Crown case is all at sea” and that during the month-long trial it had attempted “through their witnesses to re-write history”.

Both Kearns and 43-year-old Paul Anthony John McCaugherty from Beech Court, also Lurgan, are on trial with 41-year-old Dermot Declan Gregory, aka Michael Dermot Gregory, from Concession Road in Cossmaglen, who deny a total of eight charges between them arising out of the MI5 two-year sting operation.

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