A leading dissident republican has pleaded guilty to handling £10,000 in cash following the robbery of cash-in-transit guard.
Convicted bomber and alleged Real IRA leader Terence McCafferty (45), of Carlisle Road, Belfast appeared in the dock Belfast Crown Court on Friday alongside co-accused George Martin Daniel McGrady (53), of Swanston Drive, Newtownabbey.
Barristers for the defendants asked Deputy Belfast Recorder Judge Corinne Philpott QC that they be re-arraigned on a single charge.
Both men pleaded guilty to handling stolen goods, namely the contents of a cash box taken from a Group Four Solutions guard at knife-point on February 25, 2013.
Prosecution lawyer Robin Steer told the court that the guilty pleas were acceptable to the crown.
He asked for the charge of robbery to be “left on the books and not to be proceeded without the leave of the Crown Court or the Court of Appeal.”
Judge Philpott QC ordered pre-sentence reports and adjourned sentencing until next month.
McCafferty was remanded back into custody while McGrady was released on continuing bail pending sentence.
No details were given in court on Friday about the nature of the charges both accused faced.
However, during a High Court bail application in July 2013 by McCafferty, a prosecution lawyer claimed the G4S guard was ordered to hand over a cash box containing the money by a man brandishing a Samurai sword or machete-type sword outside an off-licence on the Oldpark Road.
He alleged that police then tracked two men in a car to a shed off the Crumlin Road.
The High Court judge was told that McCafferty and McGrady were arrested after coming out of the barn 25 minutes later.
The prosecution lawyer claimed that inside the property, police found large quantities of cash in mixed denominations, a basin of red liquid, gloves, irons and a machete.
A strong chemical smell was also detected, it was alleged.
The lawyer told the court: “Police described the scene as a production plant for washing and ironing bank notes.
“It was clear the efforts were made to wash dye and smart water from the notes and dry them with the irons.’’
A defence lawyer told the High Court that police no longer suspect that McCafferty to be the robber armed with the sword.
“He has gone from potentially, on the Crown case, of being at the forefront of this robbery right down to somebody at the tail end of the cleaning operation.”
Last month, Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Theresa Villiers, applied for a partially secret court hearing to prevent Terence McCafferty from discovering on what grounds he was returned to prison.
McCafferty was jailed for 12 years in 2005 after he was convicted of leaving a bomb outside a vehicle licensing office in Belfast city centre.
He was released on licence in November 2008 but a few weeks later he was arrested on the basis that his continued liberty was a risk to others and returned to prison.
In her application for a closed material procedure (CMP), the Secretary of State said McCafferty commanded the Real IRA in Maghaberry prison and “displayed a clear desire to continue his involvement in the Real IRA upon release, including plans for attacks that would represent a threat to public safety.”
The document adds that McCafferty was told of the reasons for his return to prison at the time.
It states: “The sensitive material in this case....cannot be disclosed in open because of the damage such disclosure would cause to national interest”.
Lawyers for McCafferty are challenging Ms Villiers’ application as he would not be allowed to attend the hearing.