Three young Lurgan men who admitted possessing a lethal armour piercing mortar bomb uncovered in April 2007, eight days after their arrest, will be sentenced in a week's time.
Mr Justice Treacy told lawyers at Belfast Crown Court he wanted to consider the case “in some detail” and would pass sentence next Thursday.
Lawyers for the trio, Damien William McKenna (26) of Dean's Walk, Gary Toman (24), Drumnamoe Avenue, Sean Gerard McConville (23), Kilwilkie Road, all Lurgan, called on the judge to sentence them for what they were involved in more than two years ago and not for more recent dissident republican activities.
The court was told since February and March this year there have been dissident activities, including the recent discovery of a 600lb bomb at Forkhill, but, it was argued it would be wrong for the three ‘footsoldiers’ to be sentenced on the basis of those activities.
However, Mr Justice Treacy said earlier that given dissident activities, the courts may be required to review the sentencing levels, or raise the sentencing levels to deter such terrorist activities.
Mr Treacy was told the guilty pleas to possessing the device with intent to endanger life were made on the premise that the trio were not the bomb makers, nor was it their direct intention to detonate the lethal device.
They had gone to the field, on the outskirts of Lurgan, where the device was uncovered on April 5, 2007, “to check the location of the device and to conceal it”.
The court also heard eight days earlier, on March 29 the men were arrested on the Antrim Road following an undercover surveillance operation involving the Army.
Prosecuting QC Gordon Kerr said they had been watched in the field by undercover soldiers, although they could not say what they were doing.
They were stopped a short distance away by police. Mr Kerr said although a search was carried out, nothing was uncovered, and while the men's clothes were seized, they were released.
However, they were re-arrested when the mortar bomb was uncovered in a follow-up search.