Man on explosive charges told police he thought wrapped up explosive substance Semtex was cannabis, court told

Laganside Court in Belfast

A WEST Belfast man on trial for offences including possessing Semtex told police he though the wrapped up explosive substance was cannabis, a court has heard.

Kevin Nolan was arrested in Sunderland in September 2015 after 651 grams of the explosive was discovered along with two guns, detonators and assorted ammunition in his parents' Ballymurphy home.

The 47-year old initially denied any knowledge of the items that were found, but later told police he saw two men hide a bag in a hedge in the City Cemetery.

Nolan claimed that thinking the bag contained money or drugs which he intended to steal, he took the bag to his parents' home.

The accused also told police that when he saw a block wrapped in cling film he thought it was "a whack of dope."

At a previous hearing, the Stewartstown Road man pleaded guilty to possessing firearms and ammunition on dates between May 1 and September 18, 2015 in suspicious circumstances.

The items included two handguns as well as a variety of bullets.

Setting out the Crown case against Nolan, prosecuting barrister Michael Chambers told Judge Patricia Smyth on Monday, that the accused now faces six charges arising from the items located in the house during the planned police search on September 17, 2015.

The charges include possessing 651g of the commercial explosive Semtex and two improvised electric detonators, both with intent to endanger life, and also in suspicious circumstances.

He has also been charged with and denies possessing two handguns with intent, as well as possessing articles for use in terrorism, namely a black balaclava,

Mr Chambers revealed the items were found when police searched Nolan's family home on the Ballymurphy Road on September 17, 2015.

The court heard Nolan's DNA was located on the inside of the balaclava as well as on the grip of a Baikai pistol.

Nolan was arrested at his girlfriend's house in Sunderland three days later.

He was brought back to Northern Ireland for questioning but denied being a member of any proscribed organisation.

Nolan then refused to answer police questions.

However at a later interview a second pre-prepared statement was read on his behalf in which he claimed he found the items in the City Cemetery believing he had found money or drugs.

The Belfast man said he then hid the items in panic and fearing for his life fled to England knowing that dissident republicans were looking for the stolen items.

However Mr Chambers concluded by telling Judge Smyth: "The Crown does not accept that account which we feel is utterly implausible. By his own admission, he was guilty in law of the offences."

At hearing.

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