Northern Ireland news

Ciaran Maxwell case heard references to second Larne man

Niall Lehd, pictured at a Halloween party, was jailed for three years in 2014

THROUGHOUT Ciaran Maxwell's three-day pre-sentence hearing, there were mentions made of a republican 'contact' who had introduced the Larne man to the Continuity IRA.

Niall Lehd, also from the Co Antrim town, pleaded guilty to possession of explosives with intent to endanger life and having a firearm in suspicious circumstances after being arrested in February 2013.

Lehd said he had found the explosives in a wooded area, including DDNP (Diazodinitrophenol) - a military-grade substance never before discovered in Northern Ireland.

It is now known that the explosives were part of the Maxwell stockpile, which he was building up in locations across Northern Ireland and England.

Lehd was sentenced to three years in jail, with the court accepting he was not a major player in any dissident group.

Read more: Analysis - The story of former Royal Marine Ciaran Maxwell is bizarre, even by Northern Ireland standards

Judge McFarland said he did not consider him to be dangerous, saying there was "more of a risk to yourself than to others".

Republican sources have also confirmed to The Irish News that Lehd was not a key figure in any armed dissident group.

However, during the Maxwell case his name continually cropped up as the former Royal Marine's defence claimed he felt pressurised and fearful for his family if he didn't cooperate with hardline republicans.

The Irish News contacted Lehd but he did not wish to comment on the sentencing of his one-time friend.

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