Belfast Telegraph

Suspended jail sentence for Derry man who stored gunpowder that he took from fireworks

By George Jackson

A man from Londonderry who contravened the 1883 Explosives Act by removing gunpowder from fireworks and storing it in a plastic tub has been handed a suspended sentence.

Steven James Gill (27), from Kular Court, was given a 12 month jail sentence, suspended for 18 months at the city's Crown Court yesterday. He admitted possessing the flash powder pyrotechnic composition in his flat on October 2, 2013.

A barrister for the Public Prosecution Service said the offence carried a maximum sentence of 14 years in jail.

He said police found the substance when they searched Gill's flat just over four years ago for an unrelated matter.

The gunpowder was initially examined by an Army bomb disposal officer.

When it was later analysed at the Forensic Laboratory, a scientist concluded that the same type of flash gunpowder had been used in the past to make homemade bombs.

The prosecutor said it was accepted that Gill did not have the gunpowder for paramilitary motives.

He said inside Gill's flat the police also found a pair of black gloves, a balaclava and combat trousers. "He told the police he wore them when fishing," the barrister said.

A defence barrister told Judge Philip Babington that the offending took place in the run-up to Halloween. He said there was no police intelligence linking the defendant to paramilitaries.

"He has had this hanging over him since his arrest just over four years ago.

"He accepts he was selling fireworks four years ago but now for his stupidity he finds himself being sentenced for possessing explosives," the barrister said.

Imposing the suspended sentence, Judge Philip Babington said he accepted there was no intelligence linking Gill to paramilitaries.

He said he also took into consideration Gill's immediate plea of guilty and the four year delay in completing the prosecution of the case.

Belfast Telegraph

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