A Wexford man who constructed a timer for an explosive device months after gardaí uncovered a huge cache of explosive components in a shed at his parent’s home has been jailed for 12 years at the Special Criminal Court in Dublin.
Nicholas Kendall (aged 21) of Row Street, Wexford, had pleaded guilty to nine counts relating to the unlawful possession of a variety of explosive substances, including chemical components for Semtex, components of fusing systems for mortar bombs, improvised timing power units, explosive propellant powder and clothes pegs adapted to act as electro-mechanical switches.
Gardaí uncovered the cache after simultaneous raids on his parent’s rural home at Springcrest, Keelogues, Barntown, Co Wexford and a house at Cortown, Togher, Dunleer, Co Louth on October 8, 2010.
Kendall also pleaded guilty to the unlawful possession of a component part of a timing power unit and a 9mm Smith & Wesson semi-automatic model SW 9F pistol at the same address in Co Louth on the same date.
He additionally pleaded guilty to the unlawful possession of a component part of a timing power unit designed for initiating an explosive device, found at his parent’s home while he was on bail for the previous offences on February 18, 2011.
Mr Justice Paul Butler, presiding, said this was a “tragic case” involving a very young man with no previous convictions but one that nevertheless had to be regarded with the utmost seriousness given the “very large cachement of lethal goods” found in Kendall’s possession.
He said the court accepted evidence that Kendall had likely been influenced by an older person involved in subversive activities and noted that he had pleaded guilty to the offences and had no previous convictions.
Mr Justice Butler said the court regarded the appropriate sentence for the offences committed on October 8 2010 to be one of six years. However, he said the court would not suspend any portion of that sentence as it had no evidence as to Kendall’s future conduct and would not suspend a sentence “on the hope” an individual would not offend again.
He said Kendall’s possession of a timing power unit in February of this year was of a “far more serious” character and the fact the offence was committed while he was on bail was a significant aggravating factor.
Mr Justice Butler said the court found that the appropriate term is this regard was a consecutive six year sentence.
Superintendant Diarmaid O’Sullivan told Mr Garnet Orange BL, prosecuting, that gardaí had placed Kendall under surveillance as part of a garda investigation in to the activities of dissident republicans in counties Wexford and Meath.
He said that on October 8, 2010 Kendall was arrested on suspicion of being a member of an unlawful organisation, having been observed driving from Wexford to Dunleer in Co Louth, where he met with another man and proceeded to an address in the town.
Supt O’Sullivan agreed that a search of the premises in Cortown, Dunleer, Co Louth revealed a 9mm firearm, later found to have Kendall’s DNA on it, as well as a timing power unit in the foot-well of the Volkswagen van Kendall had driven from Wexford.
He said that gardaí in Wexford simultaneously raided Kendall’s family home in Keelogues and uncovered a “significant” number of component parts for explosive items in an improvised shed at the rear of the house.
Supt O’Sullivan said that Kendall exercised his right to silence for the majority of questions put to him by gardaí and told investigating officers he had travelled to Co Louth to buy fireworks.
He said that on February 18 last, some months after Kendall was released on bail for the first tranche of offences, gardaí again raided his parent’s home in Keelogues and uncovered another timing power unit in the midst of construction.
Counsel for the defendant, Mr Patrick Gageby SC, told the court that there was evidence that Kendall may have been “groomed” and influenced by an older man to partake in the offences.
He asked the court to bear in mind Kendall’s youth, his plea of guilty, his lack of previous convictions and evidence from his family that he would continue to have their support upon his release from prison.