Northern Ireland news

Ballymena man jailed for having 'Aladdin's cave' of weapons and bomb components

Robert James Templeton (36), of Shancoole in Ballymena was jailed for one year

A CO Antrim man has been jailed for a year for having an "Aladdin's cave' of weapons and bomb components.

Robert James Templeton (36), of Shancoole in Ballymena, will spend a further 12 months on supervised licence on his release and he will also be the subject of Violent Offences Prevention for five years to reduce his risk of re-offending.

Templeton had pleaded guilty to having explosive substances and ammunition under suspicious circumstances, attempting to convert an item into a firearm, importing a friction lock baton, possessing a stun gun and possessing documents likely to be of use to a person "committing or preparing an act of terrorism".

All the offences were committed between March 12, 2015 and July 5, 2019.

Belfast Crown Court heard that in July 2019, police searched his home and uncovered gunpowder, chemicals and fertilisers, fuses, fireworks, ball bearings, nuts and washers, metal pipes and tools along with ammunition and instruction manuals in how to make improvised bombs and firearms.

They also uncovered a catapult, large swords including a Samurai sword, a crossbow and bolts and a "significant quantity" of food.

Prosecution counsel Samuel Magee QC described it as an "Aladdin's cave of weaponry and bomb components''.

He told Belfast Recorder Judge Patricia Smyth that it was accepted that Templeton had all the materials as a result of his "compulsive purchasing for the purposes of making improvised explosive devices "he had not made any concerted effort to put them together and no viable devices were found or created".

During police interviews, Templeton gave a prepared statement where he claimed he was "interested in making pyrotechnics and rockets". He later offered up what he said were "innocent explanations" for the items, revealing that he believed in "prepping ideology" where devotees gather items and prepare for such instances as economic and social breakdown.

In her sentencing remarks, Judge Smyth said that "this is not a case where explosives and ammuntion were being held for a terrorist purpose or on behalf of a terrorist organisation".

She said Templeton deliberately acquired the items with the intention of making devices with the capacity to be lethal.

A pre-sentence report by Probation Service said Templeton's behaviour appeared motivated by a "descent into a bunker mentality of prepping for a much feared and anticipated collapse of social order and the need to take steps to be able to survive such a catastrophic event''.

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