Published Tuesday, 03 September 2013
Police released an images of the small arsenal they seized. (© PSNI)
Belfast Recorder Judge David McFarland told 49-year-old Thomas John Edwards that he accepted he had been under a degree of pressure from others to become a "reluctant store man" for the items.
Edwards, from Meadowbrook, Tullygalley in Craigavon, will serve half his sentence in jail and half on supervised licence.
Just before his trial was due to start last July, Edwards pleaded guilty to having guns, ammunition and explosives with intent to enable others to endanger life on 10 August 2011.
Edwards also admitted possessing a balaclava for terrorist purpose and providing property, namely his home, for terrorism.
Prosecuting QC Ciaran Murphy told Belfast Crown Court that in an intelligence led operation, police searched Edwards' home and uncovered the items at various locations in the house.
The lawyer said that perhaps the most serious item was an AK47 assault rifle along with numerous bullets which was found wrapped in a black bag in an airing cupboard.
The grip stock and trigger mechanism for a recoilless improvised grenade launcher was uncovered in a bag in a kitchen cupboard while 5.1 grams of black powder - which turned out to be small arms propellant - was hidden inside a pepper pot.
Mr Murphy said that wrapped in a yellow duster in the same kitchen cupboard was an automatic Beretta pistol with a loaded magazine.
He added that, in total, police found 46 bullets and told the court how the small arms propellant was commonly used in pipe bombs.
A grenade launcher was first used in an attack in Belfast in May 1991 but "has been encountered on a number of other occasions," he continued.
When defence QC Martin O'Rourke submitted that Edwards had come into possession of the weaponry a few days before the search, Mr Murphy conceded he could not produce evidence to contradict that or the claims that Edwards was "under pressure" to store them.
As well as the jail term, Judge McFarland ordered the destruction of the guns, bullets and other items.
Following sentencing, PSNI Detective Superintendent Glenn Wright of the Serious Crime Branch said that the police are convinced that the assortment of lethal weapons and equipment "would have been used against police and put innocent civilian lives in danger."
He continued: "Mr Edwards is in jail, the weapons are off the streets. This is yet another example of the PSNI's determination to protect the community and bring terrorists to justice."
© UTV News