Page last updated at 14:28 GMT, Thursday, 30 October 2008

Explosives plot ex-soldier jailed

Andrew Quinn
Andrew Quinn was one of four men charged with the plot

A former soldier has been jailed for six-and-a-half years for his part in a plot to sell Army explosives to associates in the criminal underworld.

Unemployed Andrew Quinn, 26, of Glasgow, pleaded guilty in June to conspiracy to possess explosives.

He was the fourth man to be sentenced at Maidstone Crown Court for the plot.

Quinn had served with the 5th Battalion the Royal Regiment of Scotland (Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders), stationed at Howe Barracks in Canterbury, Kent.

He had admitted conspiracy to possess explosives and conspiracy to dishonestly undertake or assist in the retention, removal, disposal or realisation of stolen goods.

The explosives included detonators, flares, smoke grenades, distraction grenades and other munitions belonging to the British Army.

You knew that the people to whom you supplied would use them only for criminal purposes to spread death and violence

Justice Akenhead

Sentencing Quinn at Maidstone Crown Court, Mr Justice Akenhead said: "Your involvement was a pivotal one.

"It involved procuring them from contacts in the Army, the paying of soldiers and selling them on."

He added: "You knew that the people to whom you supplied would use them only for criminal purposes to spread death and violence."

Serving soldiers Garry Graham, a 37-year-old Colour Sgt, and Martyn Fitzsimmons, a 28-year-old L/Cpl, both of 5 Scots were each sentenced to 12 years in prison on Monday.

The two men were found guilty on Friday of the same two charges following a three-week trial at Maidstone Crown Court.

Cross-border investigation

Their co-conspirator, Sgt Kieran Campbell, 27, of 5 Scots, was also jailed for four years on Monday after previously pleading guilty to both charges and coming forward to give evidence for the Crown during the trial.

The court heard how cross-border police were led to Howe Barracks following the discovery of concealed military explosives during a drugs raid at Quinn's Glasgow flat.

Officers searching the flat in Whitehill Place on 31 December 2007, found him hiding in a cupboard holding a shoebox containing more than 6,000.

L to R: Garry Graham, Martyn Fitzsimmons and Kieran Campbell
Graham, Fitzsimmons and Campbell were sentenced earlier

Police uncovered 4.4lb (2kg) of heroin, scales, scissors and knotted bags of diamorphine.

A further search revealed a black suitcase in a hallway cupboard containing three parachute flares, 10 smoke grenades, one distraction grenade, 554 rounds of 5.56mm ammunition, 977 rounds of 9mm ammunition and 742 12-bore shotgun cartridges.

On his arrest, Quinn initially denied being involved in the theft and supply of explosives.

He later admitted he was "the middle man for somebody passing them on".

He told officers he had been handed 5,000, taking his own cut of 500.

Childhood friends

Police searching Howe Barracks on 15 February found stashes of explosives and detonators in Graham's locker, plus banned ammunition in Fitzsimmons's dormitory.

The court heard Quinn and Fitzsimmons were childhood friends who were Army cadets together, while Quinn and Campbell were brothers-in-law.

Quinn joined the Army at 15, served for three years in Northern Ireland with 5 Scots, and left after failing a drugs test in 2002.

He got into debt funding a protection course in South Africa with hopes of working as a bodyguard and broke both his legs in a crash in November 2006, when he fell asleep at the wheel.

Mitigating for Quinn, Alex Rooke told the court he "began to mix within different circles".

He said: "He was asked to look after heroin and did and was asked to look after ammunition."

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