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'Patsy' caught with bag of pipe bombs is sentenced to three years' probation

By Ashleigh McDonald

Published 22/06/2016

A list of donors to a trust that pays former billionaire businessman Sean Quinn's legal bills includes family and commercial connections, the High Court has heard
A list of donors to a trust that pays former billionaire businessman Sean Quinn's legal bills includes family and commercial connections, the High Court has heard

A man who admitted possessing a plastic bag containing three pipe bombs in suspicious circumstances has been placed on probation for three years.

The bag was unearthed on waste ground in the Camlough Road area of Newry close to the A1 on February 13, 2014.

Andrew Magee (20) from Parkhead Crescent in the city, admitted possessing "certain explosive substances, namely three pipe bombs, two lengths of copper pipe and 25 ball bearings" in suspicious circumstances.

A barrister for Magee told Belfast Crown Court his client was essentially a "patsy" who came to be in possession of the items whilst under the influence of a man 13 years his senior.

Judge Gordon Kerr QC said it was accepted that the defendant, aged 18 at the time of the offence, was "acting under pressure by older, sinister persons."

Judge Kerr noted Magee's "rough childhood" and unstructured lifestyle, and said he would benefit from "help, assistance and guidance" of probation.

The judge warned Magee that if he breached the probation order, he will be returned to court and would face a jail term.

At a previous hearing last week, prosecuting barrister Michael Chambers said the bag containing the items was discovered on waste ground close to Magee's house in February 2014.

It was located by police assisted by the military and had been hidden under tufts of grass.

It contained a number suspected pipe bomb component parts. When all the items were later examined, they were determined to be three viable pipe bomb devices.

A forensic examination found the defendant's fingerprint on the plastic bag.

Magee was arrested, and at his first interview he gave a pre-prepared statement claiming he knew nothing about the bombs.

When the forensic evidence about his fingerprint was put to him, Magee claimed that when walking his dog on the waste ground, his dog had found the items, and he lifted the bag up after his dog nuzzled it.

Magee also claimed he was placed under a form of duress.

Mr Chambers said the defendant accepted that he knew there were pipe bombs in the bag, but that he was not aware of the precise readiness of the devices.

Mr Chambers also said Magee accepted the devices "may be used by other people to cause violence" which could harm or even kill people.

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