Ex-Royal Marine jailed for 18 years for supplying bombs to dissident republicans

Ciaran Maxwell, originally from Larne in Co Antrim, pleaded guilty to preparation of terrorist acts

Ex-Royal Marine jailed for 18 years for supplying bombs to dissident republicans

Undated handout file photo issued by Metropolitan Police of Ciaran Maxwell. Picture by: Metropolitan Police/PA Wire/PA Images

A man who infiltrated the British military and supplied bombs to dissident Irish republicans has been jailed for 18 years.

Ex-Royal Marine Ciaran Maxwell made 43 purpose-built hides across England and Northern Ireland, in which he stashed anti-personnel mines, mortars, ammunition and 14 pipe bombs - four of which were later used.

As well as bomb-making materials, a Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) pass card, a PSNI uniform and a police stab-proof vest were found in barrels and buckets buried in the ground.

Two of the hides were discovered by accident in County Antrim forest parks - one by a dog walker, the other by a camper.

Maxwell, who was serving with 40 Commando based at Norton Manor Camp in Taunton, Somerset, pleaded guilty to preparation of terrorist acts, possessing images of bank cards for fraud and possessing cannabis with intent to supply.

During a sentencing hearing, defence barrister Paul Hynes QC told the court that Maxwell, originally from Larne in Country Antrim, had no "long-lasting republican ideology".

He claimed it was Niall Lehd, said to be a member of the Continuity IRA, who was the "instigator" of a joint venture with Maxwell.

Maxwell, 31, denied joining the Royal Marines in 2010 with the intention of infiltrating the British military.

He claimed he faked his support for the dissidents' cause because he believed old connections wished "serious ill" on him and family in Northern Ireland and England.

However, judge Mr Justice Sweeney told Maxwell: "I'm sure that you were and will remain motivated by dissident republican sympathies and a hostility to the UK."

He said: "There was sophisticated offending on a substantial scale which took place over a period of more than five years.

"There was clearly the potential for the deployment of many bombs of varying types and sizes against multiple targets, with the ultimate intent of those planting the devices being to kill.

"There was considerable planning, including attack planning, research, and the acquiring of large amounts of materials including police items for use in disguise."