Belfast Telegraph

Lennon left 'disturbed' by packages

Neil Lennon has told a trial how he had been left "very disturbed" after finding out he had been the target of suspect packages sent through the post.

The Celtic manager was giving evidence at the trial of two men accused of plotting to kill him and other high-profile supporters of the club in an explosives plot.

Trevor Muirhead, 43, from Kilwinning, and Neil McKenzie, 42, from Saltcoats, both Ayrshire, are on trial at the High Court in Glasgow accused of conspiring to murder Mr Lennon, former MSP Trish Godman, the late Paul McBride QC and various members of the Irish Republican group Cairde Na Heireann in Glasgow by sending improvised explosive devices to them. They deny all the charges against them.

Mr Lennon told the trial he had been made aware of the packages by police. He said: "I was very disturbed. I have a family. I have a young son. I have a partner, a mother and a father. I'm a footballing man. I find it difficult to comprehend the lengths that some people will go to."

Mr Lennon told the trial he had previously been sent bullets through the post and had decided to stop playing for Northern Ireland after receiving a death threat. He also said he had experienced sectarianism as a player and a manager "nearly every week". He said Celtic "abhor" sectarianism and "tries to do everything they can" to stop it.

The 40 year-old, who grew up in Lurgan, Northern Ireland, also told the court that some Celtic supporters tended to side with Irish Republicanism. But he said he could not speak for the majority of fans.

He told Advocate Depute Tim Niven-Smith: "I can't speak for Rangers supporters, you'll have to ask them yourself. I can't speak for the majority of Celtic fans either. I don't understand the relevance of your questions. I'm not a politician."

Mr Lennon was also asked about his relationship with the late Mr McBride, who had represented Celtic on disciplinary matters, and was also an alleged target of the plot. He said the QC was a "very close friend".

He was "huge, just a brilliant man and very inspirational", Mr Lennon said. He added: "I loved being in his company regardless of where we were or what we were doing. (He was) legally brilliant as a person, it's difficult to put into words."

After Mr Lennon finished his evidence, the trial judge Lord Turnbull told the jury they should take Mr Lennon's "own views of Mr McBride's personal qualities" out of their mind when they came to reach their verdict.

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