Would-be mortar bombers jailed


Three men from Londonderry caught with a mortar in the city in 2012 have each sentenced to 10 years imprisonment at Belfast Crown Court.

Following the handing down of the sentences yesterday, a spokesman for the Serious Crime Branch said everyone should be thankful that those found in possession of the mortar parts were prevented from using them.

Police stopped a car at Westway in the Creggan area on the evening of December 6, 2012. During a search of the vehicle, officers found a holdall containing a home-made explosively formed projectile. Police believe this item was intended to be used in a dissident republican terrorist attack.

Car driver Jason Ceulemans, aged 41, from Coshowen, and passengers Damien Harkin, 48, of Westland Avenue and Neil Hegarty, 49 from Benevenagh Gardens, were all sentenced to 10 years imprisonment for possession of explosives and given concurrent four years terms of imprisonment for possession of items for use in terrorism.

When their car was stopped, all three men were dressed in dark clothing and both Harkin and Hegarty were each wearing two pairs of gloves, one over the top of the other.

All three pleaded guilty last month to possession of an explosively formed projectile with intent to endanger life and to having items for a purpose connected to terrorism.

A spokesperson from Serious Crime Branch said: “We should all be thankful that those in possession of these items were prevented from using them and the actions of police undoubtedly saved lives. Police will continue to combat the threat posed by dissident individuals and groups who plan to use violence to further their agendas.

“We would encourage people in the community to continue to work with us to reduce the threat posed by such reckless individuals so that we can bring them before the courts and keep our communities safe.”