Man fails in bid to have pipe bomb sentence reduced

Sean Ruddy

Sean Ruddy

A man who discarded a pipe bomb in a Belfast garden after spotting police has failed in a bid to have his jail sentence reduced.

Appeal judges dismissed 40-year-old Sean Ruddy’s challenge to the four-year prison term after identifying delays in his admission and expression of remorse.

Ruddy, from Burren Meadow in Newcastle, Co Down, was one of two men arrested by police after they were stopped in the Lagmore area of Belfast on January 31, 2014.

Officers on patrol in the area had been alerted to the presence of a Nissan Qashqai.

As police spoke to the co-accused driver, Ruddy was seen walking into the cul de sac and throwing items in a plastic bag over a garden hedge.

On being detained he claimed there was an explosive device in the car, but nothing was found during searches of the vehicle.

A trawl of the area led to the recovery of the bag, component parts and a fully functional pipe bomb.

Ruddy at first denied possession of explosives with intent to endanger life or cause serious injury to property.

But in January 2015 he presented a statement of facts acknowledging the potentially dangerous capabilities of the items he had discarded.

A guilty plea was subsequently entered on the morning of his trial at Belfast Crown Court.

He appealed the eight-year sentence, split between half in custody and half on licence, by arguing the starting point was too high and included insufficient reduction for the plea.

However, Madam Justice McBride held that the trial judge was entitled to deny him maximum credit.

She cited the strong prosecution case and Ruddy being caught red-handed.

Pointing to his year-long delay in making a full admission, Madam Justice McBride added: “The appellant did not show remorse for his actions until the statement of facts was filed some 12 months post offence.

“We are satisfied that the sentence imposed in this case is neither manifestly excessive nor wrong in principle.”

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