Husband and wife in court on weapon plot charges

23 June 2006
Press Association
Alan Erwin

A husband and wife were among three people who appeared in court today accused of an alleged international weapons plot by dissident republican terrorists. The conspiracy involved machine guns, explosives, and anti-tank weapons, it was claimed. Belfast Magistrates Court was also told the alleged plot stretched to Portugal.

The three in the dock were among 10 arrested following police searches across Northern Ireland and France. More than 200 officers were involved in the major operation carried out on Monday.

After being questioned, Desmond Kearns, 41, of Tannaghmore Green, Lurgan, County Armagh, was charged with a conspiracy to possess AK47s, sniper rifles, pistols, silencers, heavy machine guns and various types of ammunition with intent to endanger life, cause serious damage to property or enable others to do so. The charge related to a period between May 24 last year and Monday this week.

He was further accused between the same dates of conspiring with others to have in his possession anti-tank armour-piercing weapons, plastic explosive, detonators, mines, rocket-propelled grenades and detonating cord with intent to endanger life or enable others to do so.

Alison Kearns, 37, of the same address, faced a charge of inviting another person on May 24 to provide weapons for terrorist purposes. Both of them spoke only to confirm they understood the offences they were accused of.

Their co-defendant, 37-year-old Michael Dermot Gregory of Concession Road, Crossmaglen, South Armagh, merely nodded in the dock. He was charged with making an arrangement between May 24 last year and June 13 this year as a result of which the assets of commercial property in Portugal were made available to another person who knew or suspected they would be used for terrorism.

Detective Chief Inspector Neil Graham told magistrate Fiona Bagnall he could connect all three with the offences. They were all remanded in custody to appear again by video link on July 28.

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