A west Belfast man has been jailed after admitted that he stored Semtex, gun and bullets for dissident republicans in his parents’ home.
Kevin Nolan, 47 and from Stewartstown Road, was handed a seven-year sentence for terrorist offences at Belfast Crown Court on Thursday.
It comes almost two years after 651 grams of explosives was found at a house in the Ballymurphy area of the city.
Passing sentence, Judge Gordon Kerr QC said the amount of Semtex could have been used to create a “large and destructive device”.
But he accepted Nolan had been “passively storing the items for potential future use” by others.
Nolan was informed he will serve half his sentence in prison, with the remaining half of the term spent on supervised licence. His name will also appear on the Anti-Terrorist list for 15 years.
Despite initially denying all the offences and claiming he found a bag containing what he thought was drugs and money in the city cemetery, Nolan now admits that he was approached and asked to keep the items when he worked for a taxi company.
The Semtex was discovered along with two guns, detonators and assorted ammunition during a police search on 17 September 2015.
Among the items was a holdall containing a Baikal gas pistol and a revolver, over 300 bullets, and Semtex which was wrapped in cling film.
Also found were two improvised detonators and, when a second bedroom was searched, a black balaclava was located along with a large plastic tub containing more rounds of ammunition.
Nolan was arrested at his partner’s home in Sunderland a few days after the discovery, and was brought back to Antrim Serious Crime Suite for questioning.
At a previous hearing, Nolan admitted possessing the firearms and bullets in suspicious circumstances.
On Thursday, his barrister asked that he be re-arraigned on several charges he had initially denied.
When the charges were put to him again - including possessing 651 grams of commercial explosives, and two improvised electric detonators, both with intent to endanger life, as well as possessing articles for use in terrorism, namely a black balaclava - Nolan replied: “Guilty.”
The pleas were entered on the grounds that Nolan never intended to use any of the items found, but rather that he was facilitating the future use by others by storing the items.
His barrister said that, after being approached by others to store the items, Nolan felt under pressure from them.
The barrister also revealed that, while on remand for the offences, Nolan never asked to be moved to the republican wing and was among the general prison population.
She also reminded the court that her client came before the court with no criminal record, that “he was never arrested in his life before for any reason”, and that as a result of events, Nolan has been the subject of several threats.
The barrister also revealed that, when he is released from prison, it is his intention to move away from Northern Ireland.
Sending Nolan to jail, Judge Kerr said he accepted the 47-year old was put under a degree of pressure by others, and that for a significant period he was not in physical control over the items as he was in England.
The judge did, however, point out the potential damage items such as Semtex and guns could cause.