Irish soldier and cohort jailed for gun attack on PSNI trainee
An Irish Army reservist was one of two men from the Republic jailed for some six years each for gun charges arising out of an attack on a trainee policeman's home.
Belfast Deputy Recorder Judge Corinne Philpott QC told 28-year-old reservist Gerard James McManus and 35-year-old Kevin Barry Nolan they clearly planned to "endanger the life of the student police officer'" in the attack in the Fermanagh border town of Garrison over four years ago.
The Belfast Crown Court judge said the attack was foiled by undercover police during an "intelligence-led operation'" at a block of flats in the village.
Judge Philpott said that an aggravating factor against McManus was that he had served nine years in the Irish Army and was trained in the use of weapons.
McManus, from Fernhill, Letterkenny, was given six-and-a-half years in custody, while Nolan, a would-be politician of Main Street, Blacklion, Co Cavan, got six years in prison.
Earlier this month it was claimed the trainee policeman had been targeted by one of his own relatives, who was later "spirited away". The lawyers said the individual, known to authorities, had acted as an agent provocateur.
McManus and Nolan, they said, always maintained they never meant to harm or injure the policeman.
However, the prosecution rejected any suggestion their mission was only to scare, as a weapon was fired.
The original charge of attempting to murder the officer on November 21, 2009 was left on the books in January when they admitted having a gun with intent to endanger life and to possessing articles likely to be used in the preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism. The defence said it had express instructions to indicate their clients' remorse and for any distress caused to the policeman or his family.
Both defendants also received three-year concurrent sentences for possessing articles likely to be of use to terrorists and were placed on a 10-year notification period under the Counter Terrorism Act.
"You knew what was going on (to Nolan). You provided the means and the car to drive to Garrison.We do not know what would have happened but for the police intelligence. In your case I am giving you a determinant sentence of 12 years, with six years in prison and six on licence. You, McManus, were the gunman. You were a soldier in the Irish Army for nine years and you were professionally trained in the use of weapons."
Judge Corinne Philpott addressing Gerard McManus and Kevin Nolan.