Real IRA suspect caught in MI5 sting freed by judge

19 June 2010
The Guardian
Henry McDonald
Ruling that agent illegally entrapped defendant Blow to operation against alleged arms smuggling

An operation against an alleged Real IRA arms smuggling network suffered a blow yesterday after a judge ruled that MI5 had illegally entrapped one of the accused in a sting involving an undercover agent.

The case against Desmond Kearns, 44, at Belfast crown court was stopped by the judge, who decided that an MI5 agent known as Amir had tried to trap him.

Kearns, from Lurgan, Co Armagh, had been charged alongside two others with attempting to smuggle arms and explosive for an alleged Real IRA operation.

Their trial has heard allegations that the Real IRA used a restaurant on the Algarve in Portugal as a hub for a global weapons shipment operation as well as for meetings with men they believed to be arms dealers but who were in fact MI5 agents.

Kearns had denied two charges of plotting to possess guns and explosive between May 2005 and June 2006.

In his ruling Mr Justice Hart said "the edifice of the prosecution case" rested on "inadequate foundations and therefore that edifice cannot stand".

Kearns had been entrapped, given the evidence of two meetings between him and Amir.

"The defence have satisfied me that Kearns's conduct was brought about by the misconduct of Amir during those meetings, the offences were artificially created by that misconduct," Hart said.

He refused a similar application from one of Kearns's co-accused, Paul Anthony John McCaugherty, 43, also of Lurgan. He faces six charges including conspiring to get arms and explosive, IRA membership and using money for terrorism.

Hart said there was nothing so far to suggest that another agent - Ali - did anything more than "skilfully and convincingly play the role of an arms dealer" and as such there were no grounds to stop McCaugherty's trial. McCaugherty was one of three Co Armagh men arrested after a two-year MI5 operation. The other defendant is Dermot Gregory, also known as Michael Dermot Gregory, of Crossmaglen, South Armagh.

During the trial, which began last month, it was alleged that the accused were offered 1,000kg of explosives, detonators and cords, 20 AK-47s, 20 RPG-22s, 10 sniper rifles and 20 pistols with silencers. An MI5 undercover agent allegedly told the men that the price for the arsenal was euros 104,000 (pounds 87,000).

The trial, which is still continuing for McCaugherty and Gregory, also heard claims that McCaugherty bought a small house in the south of France for up to euros 30,000 to store the weapons and munitions before their shipment to Ireland. The crown also alleged that the Real IRA had built a specially constructed trailer to take the weapons from the Iberian peninsula to the "safe house".

It has also emerged MI5 had 90 hours of bugged conversations between its agents and the alleged Real IRA men.

The agent named in court as Amir, whose evidence against Kearns was ruled as entrapment, had claimed he could obtain the weapons and explosive the Real IRA sought from sources in Pakistan.

0 Responses to "Real IRA suspect caught in MI5 sting freed by judge"
Return to top of page Copyright © 2010 | Flash News Converted into Blogger Template by HackTutors