Terrorist duped in MI5 gun deal sting

1 July 2010
The Sun
David Young

A REAL IRA commander duped by an MI5 agent was found guilty yesterday of trying to smuggle a huge cache of weapons and explosives into Northern Ireland. Paul McCaugherty, 43, from Lurgan, Co Armagh, had no idea he was being targeted in a sting operation.

At Belfast Crown Court Justice Hart said the evidence against McCaugherty was "extremely compelling". The judge added: "He was one of a group of terrorists determined to buy arms and explosives to carry out attacks on members of the security forces in Northern Ireland."

McCaugherty was also found guilty of obtaining a restaurant in the Portuguese Algarve with the intent of selling it off to bolster the coffers of the dissident movement.

Dermot Declan Gregory, 41, from Crossmaglen, Co Armagh, was also convicted on that count.

The court heard from an MI5 agent, known only as Ali, who posed as the arms dealer at meetings with McCaugherty throughout Europe between 2004 and 2006.

In secretly-filmed exchanges they hammered out a deal that would see the republican shell out £85,300 for 100kg of plastic explosives, 20 AK47 assault rifles, ten sniper rifles, 20 handguns and 20 rocket-propelled grenade launchers.

He had handed over almost £41,000 and arranged for the non-existent cache to be brought to Cherbourg in France before his arrest in June 2006.

The convicted men will be sentenced later.

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