FOUR dissident republicans who the PSNI believe were on “operational duty for the Real IRA” will be sentenced this Friday after police stopped a car over three years ago and found a gun and ammunition.
Disc jockey Darryn Patrick McCallion (25), of Rathlin Drive, L’Derry, Martin McLoone, (25), of Abercorn Road, Derry, and Daniel John Turnbull, (33), pleaded guilty at Belfast Crown Court to possession of a firearm with intent on October 11, 2010.
Turnbull, of Strule Park, Omagh, Co Tyrone, also pleaded guilty to a further count on the same date of possessing articles likely to be used in terrorism.
Mark McGuigan (29), of Sperrin View, Omagh, Co Tyrone, was found guilty at his trial last November of possessing a firearm with intent and possessing a firearm and ammunition in suspicious circumstances.
A prosecuting counsel today told Belfast Crown Court that uniformed PSNI officers stopped a Ford Fiesta car on the Gorticashel Road outside Omagh on October 11, 2010.
The court heard McGuigan was driving the car, which was registered to his mother, and tried to reverse forwards and backwards, causing a minor collision with the police car.
“The driver’s window was broken by police with the butt of a rifle,” said counsel.
Judge Corinne Philpott QC was told that Turnbull was the front seat passenger and that the rear seats of the Fiesta were laid down flat.
In the rear of the vehicle were Derrymen McCallion and McLoone.
Counsel said that during a search of the vehicle, police found a green Celtic holdall and inside was a loaded . 38 Webley revolver concealed inside a sock.
“This weapon had been deacativated in 2003 but had subsequently been reactivated to fire .22 rifle cartridges.
“The firing pin had been bent which meant it could not strike the rifle cartridge and could not fire a cartridge.”
However, prosecuting counsel said a forensics expert said it would have required only a “minor adjustment” to the firing pin for it to fire the .22 cartidges.
He added: “There was firearms residue on the revolver which showed it had been able to fire previously.”
The court heard that inside a second sock was a quantity of ammunition, including 13 rounds of .22 rimfire rifle cartridges and 20 rounds of 9 x 19 mm calibre cartridges.
When cautioned at the scene, Turnbull told police: “I want to speak to my solicitor.” Following the seizure of the Webley revolver, he replied: “That’s the first time I have seen that.”
McCallion replied after caution: “I don’t know anything about it.”
The Crown lawyer claimed disc jockey McCallion later claimed that he had been kidnapped by the three and believed he was being taken away to be shot as a “punishment” for drug dealing.
McLoone told police at the scene that he was “going to a republican meeting.” Asked about the gun, he replied: “I didn’t know it was there.”
Belfast Crown Court heard that during follow up searches, police found a black Vauxhall Corsa car in Davagh Forest. Inside, counsel said, police found a sledgehammer.
The court was told that the car was bought some days before by McCallion.
The following day, on October 12, police carried out a search at 5 Mill Cottages in Greencastle, Co Tyrone and found a three-door Renault Clio car belonging to Daniel Turnbull parked outside.
Inside the car, officers found a submachinegun and magazine along with 42 .22 calibre cartridges.
The court was told that the search of the Clio also uncovered three sets of ballistic body armour, latex gloves, ear defenders and combat clothing.
Following defence submissions for the four accused, Judge Corinne Philpott QC said she was adjourning sentence until this Friday, January 10.
McCallion and McLoone, who had been on bail, were remanded into custody to be sentenced on Friday.
McGuigan and Turnbull, who were already in custody, were remanded back to Maghaberry prison until sentence is passed.