A former DUP candidate has been sentenced to eight years for his part in a “naked sectarian” pipe-bomb attack on one of his Catholic Polish neighbours.
Judge Desmond Marrinan told 32-year-old John Smyth Jr that the planting of the bomb was a “despicable and cowardly act” and while it can’t be proved he personally left it, “he facilitated the making of the bomb in his own premises with the full knowledge of the evil purposes of the bombers”.
Judge Marrinan, who noted Smyth Jr told police that when not on a sickie from work, “I annoy Poles”, ordered that he serve three years in jail to be followed by five years supervised licenced parole on condition he receives continued treatment for his mental health problems.
Smyth Jr, now with an address in Rockfield Heights, Connor in Ballymena, admitted involvement in the making of the pipe-bomb which was found on the windowsill of the Polish couple’s Steeple estate Seacash Drive home in Antrim on 12 October 2011.
It was claimed by the so-called South East Antrim Real UFF, and Smyth’s involvement came less than six months after failing to become a DUP councillor like his father.
His father, Smyth Snr, jailed in the late 1970s for UVF activities, was a DUP councillor on the local Antrim Borough Council for over a decade.
Judge Marrinan told Smyth Jr, whose election pledge for Antrim was making it “better place for everyone to live”, that while his responsibility was less than that of the actual bombers, their “sinister objective, to endanger life or cause serious injury to property” was motivated by “naked sectaranism”.
“This is a cancer that has run through this land for many years and must always be resisted by people of goodwill,” said the judge who added that those who supported such attacks, “must expect to receive heavy deterant sentences as a warning to others who may be minded to resort to such behaviour in the future”.
However, Judge Marrinan said there were a number of highly unusal mitigation factors which could be taken in favour on behalf of Smyth Jr, who has since expressed “genuine regret and remorse” and now describes that “what was done to this innocent young Polish couple was disgusting”.
The judge said he accepted defence submissions that at the time Smyth Jr was suffering from an ongoing mental health condition which still requires “a powerful anti-depressant drug at a significant dosage” to treat it.
Defence QC Peter Irvine had told the court that a suicidal Smyth was in a fragile and very vulnerable state of mind, quite clearly seen from medical reports indicating that the adverse effect markedly reduced his resilience and compromised his thought processes.
Mr Irvine claimed that while under this mental instability, and under enormous and extreme stress, strain and depression, Smyth Jr was “preyed upon by more sinister figures”.
Indeed it was revealed that Smyth Jr was also the victim of a similar device which exploded after being thrown through his living room window. His parent’s home was also targeted in a later pipe-bomb attack, but fortunately the device failed to go off. Smyth later told his doctors he was the target of “local loyalist paramilitary thugs”.
The revelation of the pipe-bombings led Judge Marrinan to comment: “Someone hates him, put it that way”.
Smyth Jr, who faces being removed from the DUP and the Orange Order, admitted allowing his then Steeple estate home in Seacash Road for the pipe-bomb to be made sometime between April and October 2011.
Prosecution lawyer Neil Connor had told the court that Smyth Jr was initially caught after Army Technical Officers managed to defuse the device without destroying it. This allowed the device to be deconstructed and the components analysed and forensically examined.
Mr Conner said that many component parts for the pipe-bomb, including its copper pipe casing and fireworks, were later linked forensically to the very same materials found during searches at Smyth’s home.