Pair jailed for attack on rookie PSNI officer

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An Irish Army reservist was one of two men jailed for gun charges arising from an attack on a trainee policeman’s home, aimed at forcing him from border village of Garrison.

Belfast Deputy Recorder, Judge Corinne Philpott QC, on Thursday told 28-year-old reservist Gerard James McManus and 35-year-old, would-be politician Kevin Barry Nolan that they clearly planned to “endanger the life of the student police officer”.

The Belfast Crown Court judge said the attack on November 21, 2009 , was foiled by undercover police in an “intelligence-led operation”.

McManus and Nolan had maintained they never meant to harm the policeman.

However, the prosecution, who did not proceed with a charge of attempted murder, rejected any suggestion said their mission was only to scare him since a weapon had been fired.

Nolan, who once stood as an independent republican but polled only 115 votes, was arrested at the scene in the Vauxhall Astra seen approaching the officer’s home.

He was found in the front passenger seat sitting on a loaded pistol magazine.

Judge Philpott said during police interviews, Nolan said Garrison in Co Fermanagh would always remain a “100 per cent nationalist village” and he “would not accept British rule there”.

Following his arrest McManus – who had been the gunman, and who served nine years in the Irish Army – told police: “There was no way I was going to shoot him... I was going to fire a couple of shots in the air.”

McManus, from Fernhill, Letterkenny, was given six-and-a-half years in custody while Nolan of Main Street, Blacklion, Co Cavan, got six.

The judge said that if they had have been convicted after a trial “I would not have been giving less than 15 years”.