McGlinchey pleads guilty to purchasing ‘Massereene’ phone

editorial image

Former Old Bailey bomber Marian ‘Price’ McGlinchey on Thursday pleaded guilty to buying the mobile phone used by the Real IRA to claim responsibility for the murders of two British soldiers outside Massereene Army Barracks in March 2009.

The 59-year old dissident Republican also pleaded guilty to helping out at an Easter commemoration on April 25 last year. During the Londonderry commemoration, McGlinchey was pictured holding up a statement for a masked man.

McGlinchey, from Stockman’s Avenue in west Belfast, was released on continuing bail, to be sentenced in December.

Belfast Crown Court Judge Gordon Kerr QC told McGlinchey that the fact she was being released was “no indication”of how she would eventually be dealt with.

McGlinchey was already on trial accused of buying the pay-as-you-go mobile phone. However this morning, her defence QC Frank O’Donogohue asked for her to re-arraigned on the charge of providing money or property for the purposes of terrorism. The lawyer also asked that she be arraigned on a separate charge of aiding and abetting the commemoration in Londonderry.

McGlinchey was due to have gone on trial, accused of aiding and abetting, counselling and procuring the address made to encourage support for the IRA, or to further its activities.

Her original trial, which began on Monday heard that she had links to “dissident republican activity” and must have known that the mobile she’d bought was to be used to make the call claiming the attack on the Co Antrim barracks.

Two soldiers - Sappers Mark Quinsey and Patrick Azimkar- were gunned down as they collected a pizza delivery at the front of the Co Antrim barracks on March 7, 2009. The pizza delivery man was also wounded in the attack. Two men accused of the murders were subsequently tried and acquitted.

Prosecutor Tessa Kitson told the court that the day after the fatal attack, a unknown male made a number of telephone calls to media outlets including UTV as well as the Samaritans claiming responsibility for the attack on behalf of the Real IRA.

Ms Kitson said that on March 8, 2009 a woman was caught on CCTV purchasing the pay-as-you-go mobile from the Tesco store in Newtownabbey, adding it was the Crown’s case that the woman seen purchasing the phone was McGlinchey.

The court heard that the phone was first used to claim responsibility one hour and five minutes after it was bought. The prosecution claimed it had been purchased “solely” for this purpose.

McGlinchey was questioned about the purchase of the mobile phone in November of that year. Ms Kitson said the accused “declined to make any comment in relation to these circumstances and she didn’t identify the person or persons to whom she must have passed this telephone to.”

Ms Kitson told Judge Gordon Kerr QC that given McGlinchey’s “background and involvement in dissident republican activity”, it was unlikely she was unaware that the phone would be used to “promote the objectives and aims of a terrorist organisation, in that it would be used to claim responsibility for a terrorist attack.”

She also said the timing of the events were important in the case against the accused, saying the phone was purchased the day after the attack and the first call was made just 24 minutes after the phone was topped up with credit. Ms Kitson added that no other calls were made to or from the phone, other than those claiming responsibility.

The court also heard that despite various police interviews, McGlinchey never provided a reason for the purchase of the phone.