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Dissident had list of judges and officers in his jail cell

By John Cassidy

Published 08/09/2016

Discovery: Connor Hughes
Discovery: Connor Hughes

A search of a convicted dissident republican's cell at a high-security jail uncovered the names of a number of police officers and judges, a court was told yesterday.

Belfast Crown Court was told that Connor Hughes (24), who is originally from Altan Close in Dunmurry, west Belfast, was eight months into an 11-year term when staff at Maghaberry carried out the search.

Prosecuting barrister Ian Tannahill said that during the operation on October 2 last year, warders "uncovered a list of names of 16 police officers and eight members of the judiciary".

Mr Justice Treacy was told that the search was carried out in the Roe House section of the Co Antrim prison.

"That's a part of the prison where Oglaigh na hEireann are held," the court heard. "The list was found among a number of documents, which included shopping lists for the prison tuck shop inside an A4 pad.''

The documents were later handed to the PSNI, but during interviews with detectives Hughes "did not answer any questions.''

The hearing was told that at the time Hughes was serving an 11-year sentence handed down in February 2015 for possession of explosives with intent to endanger life or damage property.

At a previous hearing in June, the defendant pleaded guilty to possessing documents likely to be of use to terrorists.

Prosecutor Ian Tannahill said that given Hughes's previous conviction, it was the Crown case that "this information and information of this type would be useful to terrorists on the outside''.

Defence counsel Arthur Harvey QC rejected a prosecution assertion that Hughes was a member of a terrorist organisation as "entirely speculative" and said it "would be quite wrong for the court to take that as an aggravating factor in this case''.

Mr Justice Treacy was told that Hughes's earliest date for release from his sentence would be in September 2019.

"I don't propose to sentence today," the judge told the hearing. "I want to review the authorities provided to me and I will pass sentence on Friday week."

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