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Two men are caged over bid to smuggle note in prison

By John Cassidy

Published 04/07/2015

Two men have been sentenced to a total of 40 months for having a handwritten note that they attempted to smuggle into the dissident republican wing of a top security prison
Two men have been sentenced to a total of 40 months for having a handwritten note that they attempted to smuggle into the dissident republican wing of a top security prison

Two men have been sentenced to a total of 40 months for having a handwritten note that they attempted to smuggle into the dissident republican wing of a top security prison.

Thomas Ashe Mellon (39), of Rathmore Road, received a sentence of two years and four months at Belfast Crown Court after Judge David McFarland said he had a "high culpability" in the case as he had written the note.

William McDonnell (29), of Culaduff Gardens in the city, received a 12-month sentence after the judge said he had played a "lesser role" by acting as a courier.

Both defendants had previously pleaded guilty to possessing a "note in circumstances which gave rise to a reasonable suspicion that its possession was for a purpose connected with the commission, preperation or instigation of an act of terrorism".

Mellon had been found not guilty last week of membership or professing to be a member of the IRA and directing the actvities of the terrorist organisation.

During his trial, the court heard that on June 5, 2014, McDonnell attempted to enter Maghaberry Prison to visit a republican prisoner held in Roe House when he was searched by a member of the Prison Service.

The judge was told that the search revealed a small package wrapped in cling film on the left inside pocket of his jacket.

McDonnell was allowed to leave the prison and the package was later forensically examined and found to contain 13 cigarette papers stuck together bearing handwritten text in black ball pen signed 'T'.

He later drove towards Londonderry and stopped at a restaurant on the Glenshane Pass, where he was observed talking to Mellon.

Forensic scientists linked the notes to Mellon through handwriting style and DNA.

Both were also made the subject of a counter terrorism notification for the next 10 years.

Belfast Telegraph

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