Belfast Telegraph

Ronan Kerr death was spark for PSNI's probe into terrorists

By Chris Kilpatrick

Authorities swooped on the four dissident terrorists following a six-month long covert surveillance operation involving the both the PSNI and British intelligence services.

Focused on republican terrorist activity in the Tyrone area, the covert recordings and trackings began within months of the murder of Catholic PSNI officer Ronan Kerr in Omagh in 2011.

Those conversations relayed in court yesterday came from meetings involving Sharon Rafferty and Sean Kelly.

They included discussions on the use of weapons, attacks on police, details of a prison governor and gripes about the dissident republican leadership.

Other topics of conversation centred on recruitment and the issues of security, informants and fundraising.

On March 30, 2012, Rafferty, Kelly, Aidan Coney and his brother Gavin attended the training camp for target practice.

They spent 40 minutes firing shots at balloons and a mess tin.

The weapon used was a .22 Walther rifle, which was legally-held and licensed to Gavin Coney.

He was later linked to the camp after his DNA was found on a cigarette butt and a balloon.

Kelly and Rafferty were yesterday jailed for their part in the camp on top of a series of other terror offences.

Kelly was branded a danger to the public by the judge and handed an indeterminate prison sentence after he admitted six terrorist offences. Rafferty was given eight years.

The previous day, the Coneys had been sentenced to five years and nine months.

Terence Aidan Coney (36), from Malabhui Road in Carrickmore, and Gavin Joseph Coney (37), from Gorticashel Road in Omagh, previously pleaded guilty at Belfast Crown Court to the charges linked to the camp.

The Coneys admitted having a firearm and ammunition, namely a .22 Walther rifle, and .22 rounds in suspicious circumstances on March 30, 2012.

They also admitted attending a place used for terrorist training on the same date, namely Formil Wood on the Gorticashel Road.

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