Vigilante letter dad escapes jail

Belfast Crown Court
Belfast Crown Court

A 36-year-old has received a suspended sentence for having an imitation firearm and a statement from a group which threatened to execute drug dealers in republican communities.

Finbarr Kelly, a father-of-three from Antrim Road, north Belfast, was spared a two-year prison term after a judge said the defendant was needed at home to care for his severely-disabled teenage son.

However, Belfast Recorder Judge David McFarland yesterday jailed co-accused John Joseph McNally, 47, of Oisin House, Victoria Parade, north Belfast, for 11 months.

The two defendants pleaded guilty to having an imitation firearm – namely a pellet-type weapon – with intent to cause fear of violence.

Kelly also pleaded guilty to possessing articles likely to be of use to terrorists, namely a statement on behalf of a group calling itself “Community Action Against Drugs”.

Belfast Crown Court heard that the statement, found during a search of his house, warned that those who benefit from destroying their community will be “executed, exiled and their businesses targeted and destroyed”.

The court was also told that on August 30, 2012 following a tip-off, police stopped a Renault Scenic car being driven by McNally, who had a significant criminal record, whilst Kelly was the passenger.

“During a search of the car, police recovered a firearm under the front passenger seat,’’ said a prosecution lawyer.

“Police also found two pairs of gardening gloves along with two balaclavas in the car. A baseball bat and a claw hammer were found in the boot of the car.”