'Largest NI Semtex find' in a decade

Published Saturday, 03 May 2014
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A man has been remanded into custody charged in connection with what police have described as the largest amount of Semtex found in Northern Ireland in the last decade.

Thomas Hughes, 47, from Maeve House in New Lodge in north Belfast, handed himself in following searches at the block of flats on Wednesday and Thursday.

He is accused of possession of explosives with intent to endanger life.

At Belfast Magistrates' Court, he nodded to acknowledge he understood the single charge put to him.

A police officer told the court the 2.5kg of Semtex found in an airing cupboard in Hughes' flat, was the largest amount to be discovered in Northern Ireland in the past 10 years.

In objecting to bail, he also said he believed the explosives would have been used to make a number of improvised explosive devices and that he believed Hughes was not acting alone.

The officer said the Semtex wrapped in clingfilm and tinfoil was "probably about the size of a house brick" had been cut in two and was "most likely for purposes of distribution to other terrorist cells".

He said that Semtex is viewed as an asset to dissident republican terrorists and that it would have been placed in safekeeping with a "trusted individual".

A lawyer for the defendant told District Judge Harry McKibbin how Hughes was "horrified and shocked" when he was told the explosives had been found at his home, especially because his seven-year-old son would be using the property.

The lawyer added that Hughes has a drink problem and was an unsuspecting "easy target".

Hughes denies being a member of any dissident organisation. The court heard during his police interview, Hughes told officers he supported the peace process and was against violence.

The officer agreed that Hughes has a clear record and had given an account that a key to his flat had gone missing, it was then found in the possession of an alleged tiger kidnapper.

But Judge McKibbin, saying the charges against Hughes were "very serious" and that he must consider the safety of the public, remanded Hughes into custody.

He added that Hughes' explanation was not "terribly satisfactory I'm bound to say".

"I'm not convinced at all by the explanations and it would be foolhardy to release him on bail," he said.

Hughes will appear again via videolink on 30 May.

© UTV News
Comments Comments
4 Comments
Jim in Carrickfergus wrote (151 days ago):
No comments again UTV?
David in Belfast wrote (152 days ago):
Hmmmm Semtex not something you buy in Tesco. Would it be cynical to wonder if this was the Semtex supposedly put beyond use or decommissioned?
stevie in newtownabbey wrote (152 days ago):
shared future my backside. they havent gone away you know.
l in belfast wrote (152 days ago):
well done
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