A Derry man who was hiding guns and bullets for dissident republicans has been given an extended jail term of seven years.
Thomas Christopher Nash (54) will serve half of that sentence in custody and will be subject to licence condition for a further five years after Belfast Crown Court Judge Tom Burgess deemed him to be a danger due to his willingness to engage with terrorists “who are all too willing to take human life”.
He warned: “It is an unfortunate fact that there are in our midst terrorist organisations who have sought to attack and kill members of the security forces. Others have taken different paths but they have chosen to continue attacks with indiscriminate weaponry but those who are convicted of such involvement will face long and condign punishment.”
Earlier he heard that cops raided Nash’s home at Iveagh Park, Prehen on August 10 last year after he was stopped in a car with two other men at Irish Street in the Waterside.
Prosecution QC Ciaran Murphy told the court that officers uncovered several items hidden in a blue hold-all in Nash’s garage. Among the items were a .22 hunting rifle, telescopic sight, assorted bullets including rounds designed to expand on impact, an imitation pistol, an imitation AK47 assault rifle, balaclavas and a canister of CS spray. He added that cops found over 100 bullets stashed under a concrete block in the garden. Mr Murphy said that during 24 police interviews Nash refused to answer the majority of questions despite forensic DNA evidence linking him to the hold-all.
The father of three later pleaded guilty to possessing the guns and ammunition with intent to enable others to endanger life and to a charge of possession of the prohibited weapon.
Defence QC Brian McCartney suggested to the court that at the time of the offences, Nash had been in a mentally and medically vulnerable state so had “agreed to the storage of these weapons”.
Jailing Nash, Judge Burgess said it was not in dispute that the weapons were for dissident republicans “whose intentions to murder and maim have been made all too clear” and that Nash had played a vital role in hiding the guns and bullets.