Reserve soldier shot 'to scare' officer

Published Thursday, 06 February 2014
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An Irish Army Reservist is one of two men from the Republic who face "substantial sentences" for gun charges arising out of an alleged attack on a student policeman's home in Fermanagh over four years ago.

Reserve soldier shot 'to scare' officer
The judge said she would review the case before sentencing. (© UTV)

It's alleged the incident was aimed at forcing the trainee from the Co Fermanagh border town of Garrison.

On Thursday, Belfast Deputy Recorder, Judge Corinne Philpott QC, told soldier Gerard James McManus, 28, from Fernhill, Letterkenny, and 35-year-old would-be politician Kevin Barry Nolan of Main Street, Blacklion, that she wanted to review the case before hopefully passing sentence within the next 10 days.

While lawyers for the two men accepted on Thursday that their sentences could be in "double figures", claims were made that the trainee policeman had been targeted by one of his own relatives, who was later "spirited away".

The lawyers said the individual, known to authorities on both sides of the border, had acted as an agent provocateur.

They added that McManus and Nolan, who had always maintained they never meant to harm or injure the policeman, could have made a case of "entrapment", but they had not held back in an effort to embarrass the authorities, and instead had met their responsibilities and pleaded guilty.

However, the prosecution, who did not proceed with a charge of attempted murder against the men, said they did not accept McManus and Nolan were only on a mission to scare the trainee policeman, as a gun, which was fired, had been used.

The original charge of attempting to murder the officer on 21 November 2009, was "left on the books", when last month they admitted having a gun with intent to endanger life, and to possessing articles likely to be used in the preparation or instigation in acts of terrorism.

They related to a car, a balaclava, gloves, lighters and soap. In addition McManus also admitted using a gun to resist his arrest at the time.

He fired off a shot making his escape when undercover officers moved in.

Although arrested the following morning hiding in a shed, no weapon was recovered.

Nolan, who once stood unsuccessfully as an independent republican candidate polling only 115 votes, was arrested at the scene in the Vauxhall Astra car seen approaching the officer's home.

He was found in the front passenger seat sitting on a loaded 15 round magazine for a Glock pistol.

The pair, McManus, and Nolan, had always maintained they had no intention of harming the trainee officer.

McManus told police: "There was no way I was going to shoot him...I was going to fire a couple of shots in the air...to scare him, wanted to terrify him like."

In his interviews Nolan claimed that as far as he was concerned: "No harm was going to be caused," and that firing the gun was to, "put the frighteners on him".

Defence lawyers Barry Macdonald SC, QC and Patrick Lyttle QC, said they had express instructions to indicate their genuine remorse, in open court, for their involvement, and for any distress caused to the policeman or his family.

Mr Lyttle, for McManus, also said he wished to make it clear that "he is not a member of any paramilitary organisation".

Mr Macdonald said it was accepted that this was a very serious case, carrying possible "double figure sentencing", while Mr Lyttle acknowledge, as "take that as read", the extreme seriousness of the offences, he added what was important was determining the proper range of sentences given all the circumstances in the case.

© UTV News
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