Married couple accused of gun-smuggling plot

24 June 2006
The Irish News

A married couple and a second man appeared in court yesterday after police claimed they had smashed an international gun smuggling plot linked to dissident republicans. In the dock at Belfast Magistrates Court were Desmond Kearns (42), his wife Alison, a 37-year-old mother-of-two from Tannaghmore Green in Lurgan, and Michael Dermot Gregory (37), from Concession Road, Crossmaglen, all Co Armagh.

Desmond Kearns was charged with conspiring between May last year and June this year to possess a variety of weapons and explosives. The list included AK47 rifles, sniper rifles, pistols, silencers, heavy machine guns, ammunition, anti-tank armour-piercing weapons, plastic explosives, detonators, mines and rocket-propelled grenades. His wife was charged with inviting an unnamed person to provide weapons with the intention they would be used for terrorist purposes. Mr Gregory was charged with arranging for the assets of a property in Portugal to be made available to a person who knew or suspected they would be used for terrorism.

Detective Chief Inspector Neil Graham, who was in charge of the investigation, said he believed he could connect the defendants with the charges. Defence solicitors said they had no questions to put to the officer and were granted legal aid certificates. Resident Magistrate Fiona Bagnall remanded the trio in custody to appear again by video link on July 28.

A small number of friends of the accused sat at the back of the court and exchanged waves with them as they entered and left the dock. Meanwhile, police have been given more time to question three other people arrested last Monday after swoops on addresses in Co Armagh and Co Fermanagh. A woman who had been questioned was released yesterday pending reports to the Public Prosecution Service.

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