A west Belfast man awaiting trial on charges arising from the discovery of guns and Semtex at a house in Ballymurphy has had his bail conditions varied to allow him to spend Christmas with his partner in England.
Kevin Nolan, from Stewartstown Road in Dunmurry, is due to be tried next month on terrorist-related offences including possessing over half a kilogram of the explosive substance.
The 47-year-old has already admitted possessing two handguns that were found during the search of his father’s home last September. He has, however, denied charges linked to the Semtex.
Following the discovery of the explosives and weapons in Belfast, Nolan was arrested at his partner’s home in Sunderland.
His barrister Eilis MacDermott QC made an application at Belfast Crown Court to vary Nolan’s bail to allow him to travel to England and spend Christmas with his partner and her three young children.
Telling the court that since being granted bail Nolan has adhered to all conditions, Ms MacDermott said her client would agree to any additional conditions imposed.
Ms MacDermott said that while Nolan’s partner has travelled to Belfast to visit him while he has been on bail, “for obvious reasons it is not possible for her to travel here at Christmas with three young children”.
The barrister also said that Nolan’s partner “has no connections whatsoever with the affairs of this jurisdiction”.
Ms MacDermott said that after pleading guilty last week to the firearms offence, Nolan was aware that a prison sentence was “inevitable” and that he “will not be available for some Christmases to come”.
Revealing that he is currently under threat from paramilitaries, the defence barrister told Judge Patricia Smyth that Nolan appeared before the court with a clear criminal record.
Crown prosecutor Gareth Purvis said police were opposed to Nolan’s bail conditions being varied to allow him to travel to Sunderland for a week for several reasons, including a risk of flight.
However, Ms MacDermott said Nolan “is a man who doesn’t have any resources ... there is no possibility of him fleeing from Sunderland to some other country”.
Judge Smyth said she would grant the application to vary Nolan’s bail to allow him to spend a week at Christmas with his partner in Sunderland.
She ordered that Nolan observe a 10pm to 8am curfew, that he report to police in Sunderland three times during the week he is there, and that two sureties re-sign the bail papers.