Convicted terrorist caught drink driving

Published: 29 May 2014 13:000 comments

A convicted terrorist jailed for 22 years for his involvement in a Real IRA bombing campaign appeared “nervous” when stopped by police in Lisnaskea last month.

Noel Maguire.

Noel Maguire, of Trasna Way, Lisnaskea, had been drinking the night before and there was still alcohol on his breath.

He was fined £300 and banned from driving for 12 months when he appeared at Fermanagh Court and admitted driving with excess alcohol.

In April 2003, the then 34-year-old Maguire was one of five men jailed for conspiring to cause explosions in England in 2001.

Their first attack was outside the BBC Television Centre, west London, in March 2001, then in Ealing Broadway, west London in August, and finally in Smallbrook, Queensway, Birmingham, in November.

The bombs injured several people and caused millions of pounds worth of damage.

The three devices were packed with home-made explosive mixtures, had similar timing mechanisms and were each left in vehicles. The same code word was also used by the terrorists in telephone warnings.

The breakthrough which eventually trapped the Real IRA cell came by chance on November 14, 2001, when customs officers raided a fuel laundering plant at a farm near Leeds. They discovered documents that appeared to link the criminals to terrorism.

Police searched the area and found a car containing a gun, a hand grenade, three electronic timers and a timing unit matching the one used in the Birmingham bomb. The fingerprints of all five men were discovered in one of the farm buildings.

Maguire was arrested the following day at a house in Edmonton, north London, after a 73-year-old woman contacted police to say she thought a man matching a Photofit of the Ealing Broadway bomb suspect lived there.

Detectives later discovered that Maguire had bought the Vauxhall Cavalier used in that attack and had also paid for the red taxi that exploded outside BBC Television Centre on March 4, 2001. Tracking the signal of a mobile phone which police believed belonged to Maguire, they realised it had followed the route of the taxi before it was abandoned in Shepherds Bush.

The police did not have any direct evidence that the men planted the bombs. Instead, the investigation relied on a detailed analysis of calls from 19 mobile phones.

On one handset police recovered a text message that depicted two sticks of dynamite, followed by the words: “Up The Provos.”

It was received 12 hours after the bomb exploded in Birmingham.

A further message was received three minutes later from the same source in Ireland which read: “What were you at last night?”

Maguire denied conspiring to cause explosions but was found guilty at his trial at the Old Bailey in London.

Mr. Justice Gibbs said the Fermanagh man had played “a major part in the bombing conspiracy” and jailed him for 22 years.

The judge said the bombs had been “designed as threats to the country as a whole” and it was a “mercy” that no-one had been killed.

At Fermanagh court, a prosecutor explained that at 7.50am on Sunday, April 27, police on mobile patrol at Main Street, Lisnaskea, saw Maguire driving towards them in a Mercedes car. He turned off on to Bank Brae and they followed him at speeds of 40 to 50mph in the 30mph limit. He was seen clipping the near-side grass verge on two occasions before being stopped by the police. There was a smell of alcohol from him and he appeared nervous. A preliminary breath test produced a reading of 84, to which Maguire responded: “84? What can I say?”

An evidential sample of his breath produced an alcohol reading of 59 - 24 in excess of the legal limit.

Defence barrister Steffan Rafferty told the court Maguire has a criminal record but this was his first offence of this nature. The divorced father-of-three was released from prison last May “having spent a considerable period of time incarcerated” and is on licence for five years. After such a long time in prison he had been making “concerted efforts to get his life back on track”. In January he passed the lorry driver’s test and was due to start work as a lorry driver.

“This will be a setback,” stated Mr. Rafferty.

The barrister said that on the morning in question Maguire had gone to assist a friend to move cattle, having consumed alcohol the night before, and it was still on his breath.

District Judge Nigel Broderick said he would give Maguire credit for his early admission of guilt.

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