A man has pleaded guilty to having what a judge once described as a “chilling arsenal” of weaponry.
Bryan Christopher McManus (56) had been due to go on trial at Belfast Crown Court but instead, defence QC Philip Irvine asked for some of the charges to be put to him again.
The engineer from Aileen Terence in Newry pleaded guilty to possessing eight handguns, including one which was to disguised as the removable handle of a walking cane, a rifle, component parts of weapons, seven magazines and a quantity of assorted ammunitionm including armour piercing and expanding, or ‘dum dum’ bullets, designed to expand on impact, all with intent to endanger life.
McManus also pleaded conspiring with another person not before the court to convert imitation guns into firearms on dates between 1 September, 2007 and September 24, 2010, possessing property for a terrorist purpose, namely a book entitled ‘’Home Workshop Prototype Firearms’,” blank cartridges and a lathe and a further charge of providing property for a terrorist purpose, namely a lathe.
The weapons haul was recovered from outbuildings behind his house in Aileen Terrace in September 2011 and a previous court heard that McManus had admitted that since 2007, he had been reactivating previously deactivated guns, and modifying component parts for firearms on behalf of people he believed were dissident republican terrorists.
Although he did not name them he suspected they were connected to the Real IRA, the court heard.
Judge David McFarland adjourned passing sentence until pre-sentence probation reports had been compiled on McManus and despite Crown objections to his release on bail, granted the defence application for his release.
He warned McManus however that was “no indication” of the sentence he would face next month.