Two men have been sentenced to 10 years for planting a dissident republican bomb before a police recruitment event in Northern Ireland, a detective said.
They left it in hotel grounds ahead of the gathering of would-be new officers in Londonderry on October 9 2015, the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) said.
Darren Poleon, 43, from Drumbaragh, Kells, and Brian Walsh, 35, from Culmullen, Dunshaughlin, both in Co Meath in the Republic of Ireland, pleaded guilty to possession of explosives with intent to endanger life and possession of articles for use in terrorism.
They will be released from custody after five years to spend a further five in the community under licence, the PSNI said.
Detective Chief Inspector Gillian Kearney said: “Their intention was undoubtedly to murder and seriously injure people as well as to deter people from pursuing a career in policing.
“They had no regard for the safety of anyone staying in or visiting this popular hotel.
“I’m thankful we were able to thwart their efforts as I have no doubt that if the device had exploded people would have been killed or at the very least seriously injured.”
She said the device was placed in the Waterfoot Hotel car park on the Tuesday evening but was not found until the Friday of that week.
It was made from a fire extinguisher filled with 1.5 kilogrammes of explosives, and was found along with a detonating system, the senior officer added.
She said: “Further evidence was also gathered to suggest Poleon had made a reservation to stay at the Waterfoot Hotel on Friday 9th October, when police believe an attempt would have been made to move the device inside the hotel building from its position in the grounds.”
Officers linked the culprits to the attack after they saw them driving erratically in Omagh in Co Tyrone a few days before the device was discovered.
Upon searching their vehicle they found suspicious equipment including bolt cutters and a toy gun.
Officers later attended security alerts at a series of police recruitment venues, including the Waterfoot Hotel.
Detectives analysed a satnav recovered from the men’s car, which linked them to the venues.
The culprits were sentenced at Belfast’s Laganside courts complex on Thursday.