Men jailed for having a weapons arsenal were in ‘organised crime’

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Two men charged in connection with a weapons arsenal believed to belong to an organised crime gang have been jailed.

The weapons were found in the Hawkin Street home of 30-year-old Gary Pius McPhillips.

He was jailed for eight years, half of which will be spent in custody with the remaining half to be spent on licence.

McPhillips pleaded guilty to possessing explosives with intent to endanger life, possession of a firearm with intent and possession of a prohibited weapon.

Among the weapons seized during the search were two hand grenades, a sub-machine gun, pistols, silencers, magazines and cartridges.

A CS gas canister was also found during the search on December 20, 2012.

McPhillips also admitted possessing MDMA and mephedrone with intent to supply. The drugs had an estimated street value of £20,000.

His co-accused 28-year-old Ryan O’Reilly, of Meadowbank Court, was jailed for two years. Half of his sentence will be spent in custody and half on licence.

O’Reilly pleaded guilty to possessing an 8mm calibre blank firing pistol in suspicious circumstances between January 2005 and December 2012.

Derry Crown Court heard the weapons, which included two hand grenades similar to those used by Dale Cregan in the murder of two female police officers in Manchester, were found in the roof space of the house.

Jailing the men, Judge Phillip Babington said it was clear McPhillips was ‘heavily involved in the drugs trade in this city’.

He said the weapons found by police ‘represent a considerable danger to the law abiding citizens in this city’ and to warehouse such weapons ‘is an act of complete recklessness’.

The judge added ‘it is the police view that this weapons were being looked after by McPhillips for a crime gang led by his brother who is presently serving a sentence in relation to drugs.

“That crime gang has been heavily involved in the importation and distribution of large quantities of illegal drugs in this city.

“The combination of serious drugs offences and serious firearms offences represent very serious criminality which shows absolutely no respect for the law abiding citizens of this city.”

The judge also imposed serious crime prevention orders for five years after the men are released from prison.