A north Belfast republican pleaded guilty today to having an imitation gun and a statement from a group which threatened to “execute and exile” drug dealers in republican communities.
Finbarr Kelly (36). of Antrim Road, was due to go on trial at Belfast Crown Court on two charges.
However, at the request of his counsel Eilis McDermott QC, Kelly was re-arraigned before Belfast Recorder Judge David McFarland.
He pleaded guilty to possession of an imitation firearm with intent and possession of articles likely to be use to terrorists, namely a statement on behalf of the leadership of ‘Direct Action Against Drugs’.
Judge McFarland released Kelly on continuing bail for the prepartion of a pre-sentence report and also a medical report.
He is expected to be sentenced next month.
No details of the case were given in court, but at an earlier bail hearing a senior judge was told that police stopped a car in Belfast in which Kelly was a passenger in September 2012.
A search of the car revealed an imitation gun and hammer and police suspected an attack was imminent, Mr Justice Treacy was told.
A pellet-type weapon was discovered under a passenger seat of the Renault Scenic car.
Two balaclavas, two pairs of gloves, a baseball bat and a claw hammer were also seized from the vehicle.
Prosecution barrister Philip Henry said: “On the basis of what police found… police are of the firm view that an attack on an unknown individual was imminent.”
The court heard that follow-up searches were carried out at Kelly’s home.
Inside his Antrim Road home police discovered a document focusing on drug dealers within republican communities.
“It refers to drug-dealing gangs and (states) those who seek to benefit from the destruction of their families, friends and the wider community will be executed, exiled and their businesses targeted and destroyed,” Mr Henry added.
It was claimed that Kelly’s fingerprint was found on the statement.
Today’s guilty plea is in stark contrast to Kelly’s previous denials.
During his bail application, counsel for Kelly said his client had only been in the car for 10 minutes and knew nothing about the imitation gun.
The High Court hearing was also told that Kelly denied having anything to do with the document found at his home, although it was contended that he could have unwittingly handled it.