Cigs smuggler was 'entrapped by MI5'

15 June 2010
Lawyer wants case thrown out

THE case against one of three men facing charges after an MI5 operation against the Real IRA should be thrown out, his lawyer argued yesterday.

Orlando Pownell told judge Mr Justice Hart that it would be an "abuse of process" to continue with the Belfast Crown Court trial of Desmond Paul Kearns, 44, from Lurgan, Co Armagh.

The lawyer claimed the cigarette smuggler was "entrapped" as part of an intelligence-gathering operation by MI5 against weapon procurement in western Europe by the Real IRA.

That entrapment, 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 Pownell as "a clever and trained individual" who used deceit to get his own way.

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

Mr Pownell said: "To say, do you want guns, we say is entrapment."

He claimed that "the content of the Crown case is all at sea" and that during the month-long trial had attempted "through their witnesses to rewrite history".

Witnesses, he added, agreed the nature of the MI5 operation was either to get a lead on one of Kearns' co-accused, 43-year old Paul Anthony John McCaugherty, or investigate the workings of the Lurgan Real IRA.

The lawyer said he was not making the case that there was insufficient evidence against Kearns, but that that evidence was so discredited, that on the balance of probabilities there was an abuse, "and we say that abuse is entrapment".

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

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