Belfast Telegraph

Weapons charges Northern Ireland Christian couple were hoarding food for 'end times' scenario, court told

Lawyers for the couple said they stored the supplies based on their pastor's advice.
Lawyers for the couple said they stored the supplies based on their pastor's advice.

Alan Erwin

A Christian couple accused of having a hoard of weapons and explosives at their Co Antrim home were stockpiling food for an "end times" scenario, the High Court heard on Thursday.

Lawyers for classroom assistant Natasha Templeton, 31, said she and her 33-year-old husband Robert Templeton stored the supplies based on their pastor's advice.

But prosecutors claimed industrial quantities of sugar and eggs discovered at the Cladytown Road property in Glarryford, near Ballymena, could instead be used to make bombs.

Further details emerged as Natasha Templeton was granted bail on a series of terrorism charges.

Police searched their "dishevelled" home on July 5, seizing alleged component parts for Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), chemicals including ammonium nitrate, and ball-bearings, the court was told.

Quantities of 9mm ammunition, shotgun cartridges, a machine gun barrel, swords, knives, axes, knuckle dusters, a crossbow and a large number of power tools were also found.

A Crown lawyer said a publication called the US Army Improvised Munitions Handbook was present.

The couple are jointly charged with nine offences, including possessing explosives in suspicious circumstances and with intent to endanger life, possessing ammunition with intent, having documents useful to terrorism, and preparation of terrorist acts.

In a statement provided to police, Natasha Templeton denied knowing the contents of any of the packages ordered online by her husband - who has been diagnosed as having paranoid schizophrenia.

She explained that the amounts of sugar and 48 eggs in the house were not only for Robert Templeton's high-protein diet, but also part of food being stored due to their faith.

Prosecution counsel told the court: "She said it was in keeping with them as Christians, because they believe in end times as advised by their pastor."

He argued that the account does not stand up to scrutiny as no water or tinned foods were similarly stockpiled.

"Industrial quantities of sugar and eggs can be used in bomb making equipment," he submitted.

According to a defence barrister, however, the case against Natasha Templeton is unsustainable.

He said police searched the home based on a series of purchases her husband made on popular online retail sites as part of his interest in fireworks and pyrotechnics.

Stressing that dried rice and pasta was also stored in the couple's home, the lawyer confirmed their belief in a message from their local church in the Ballymena area.

"It relates only to her and her husband preparing for that potential eventuality with the preparation of food," he said.

"The end times is about food, it's nothing to do with these other items which (are) nothing to do with her."

Granting bail on a £5,000 cash surety, Madam Justice McBride ordered Natasha Templeton to surrender her passport and banned her from access the internet.

Meanwhile, Robert Templeton remains in custody after his planned bail application was adjourned.

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