Belfast Telegraph

Man jailed over pipe bomb fails in bid to have sentence cut

By Alan Erwin

A man who discarded a pipe bomb in a garden after spotting police has failed to have his prison sentence reduced.

Appeal judges dismissed 40-year-old Sean Ruddy's challenge to his four-year prison term after identifying delays in both his admission and his expression of remorse for his crime.

Ruddy, from Burren Meadow in Newcastle, Co Down, was one of two men arrested by police after they were stopped in the Lagmore area of west Belfast on January 31, 2014.

Officers on patrol in the area had been alerted to the presence of a Nissan Qashqai.

As police spoke to the co-accused driver, Ruddy was seen walking into the cul-de-sac and throwing items in a plastic bag over a garden hedge.

On being detained, the defendant claimed that there was an explosive device in the car, but nothing was found during searches of the vehicle.

A subsequent trawl of the area led to the recovery of the bag, component parts and a functional pipe bomb.

Ruddy at first denied possession of explosives with intent to endanger life or cause serious injury to property.

However, in January 2015 he presented a statement of facts acknowledging the potentially dangerous capabilities of the items he had discarded.

A guilty plea was subsequently entered during the morning of his criminal trial at Belfast Crown Court.

He appealed the eight-year sentence, split between half in custody and half on licence, by arguing the starting point was too high and included insufficient reduction for his guilty plea.

However, Madam Justice McBride held yesterday that the trial judge was entitled to deny him maximum credit.

She cited the strong prosecution case and Ruddy being caught red-handed.

Pointing to his year-long delay in making a full admission, Madam Justice McBride added: "The appellant did not show remorse for his actions until the statement of facts was filed some 12 months post-offence.

"We are satisfied that the sentence imposed in this case is neither manifestly excessive nor wrong in principle."

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