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Last Updated:  Tuesday, 8 April, 2003, 13:50 GMT 14:50 UK
Men guilty of dissident bomb plot
Robert (left) and Aiden Hulme
Robert (left) and Aiden Hulme
Three men have been found guilty of masterminding a dissident republican bombing campaign in England two years ago which injured several people and caused millions of pounds worth of damage.

Among the targets were the BBC Television Centre in White City, west London.

Aiden Hulme, 26, his brother Robert, 23, and Noel Maguire, 34, had denied conspiracy to cause explosions on Saturday nights in London and Birmingham.

Two other men have already admitted plotting to cause explosions between January and November 2001 as part of a Real IRA bombing campaign.

Real IRA attacks
Ealing bomb
4 Mar 2001: Car bomb outside BBC TV Centre, White City, London. Tube worker injured.
15 Apr 2001: Bomb explodes near sorting office in Hendon, north London. No-one hurt.
6 May 2001: A second blast at Hendon sorting office. One man injured.
2 Aug 2001: Car bomb detonates in Ealing Broadway, west London. Several people injured.
3 Nov 2001: Bomb in Birmingham city centre fails to detonate properly. Minor injuries.

James McCormack, 34, and John Hannan, 19, pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to plotting to cause the explosions.

All five will be sentenced on Wednesday.

Each of the three bombings had similarities including being left in vehicles, created with home-made explosive mixtures and had similar timing mechanisms. The same code word was also used.

Although there was no direct evidence that any of the defendants physically set the bombs, there was a wealth of evidence suggesting they were part of the team responsible, the court heard.

They were also associated with the two self-confessed conspirators, Hannan and McCormack.

The jury heard lengthy and complex mobile telephone evidence which showed links between the defendants and the explosions.

Noel Maguire
It was nothing short of a miracle that no pedestrians or others in clubs and pubs nearby did not suffer fatal injuries
Orlando Pownall QC

Orlando Pownall QC, prosecuting, had told the jury: "It was nothing short of a miracle that no pedestrians or others in clubs and pubs nearby did not suffer fatal injuries."

The Real IRA, a dissident Irish republican group which refused to accept the Good Friday Agreement, hoped to bring about a united Ireland, or at least force the UK Government back to the negotiating table, using terror.

The plotters were discovered during an undercover Customs and Excise investigation into a fuel tax fiddle when equipment for a car bomb was found in a remote Yorkshire farmhouse.

Then a pensioner in north London recognised one of the men from an E-fit released after the Ealing bombing.

Maguire's lawyers claimed he suffered from "significant intellectual impairment" and could not possibly have helped plan the bombing campaign.

Text messages

Maguire, nicknamed "Brain Dead" by friends, said he was at a party on the night of the BBC blast.

Robert Hulme had denied any involvement and said he only knew McCormack because he had once had a relationship with McCormack's sister.

John Hannan and James McCormack
Hannan and McCormack admitted their part in the plot

He admitted being involved in a scam involving diesel fuel in the UK.

The jury heard how Aiden Hulme was sent several text messages from Ireland on the day after the Ealing blast.

One said: "Up the Provos!" and was accompanied by an image of fizzing sticks of dynamite.

Robert Hulme was also convicted of possessing a timer and three detonators with intent to cause an explosion. Maguire was acquitted of that charge.

Both Robert Hulme and Maguire were cleared of two other charges alleging they were in possession of a hand grenade and a Smith and Wesson revolver.

None of the defendants had previous convictions for terrorist activity.


WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC's June Kelly
"The bombers were caught on CCTV"



SEE ALSO:
On the bombers' trail
08 Apr 03  |  UK
Who are the Real IRA?
04 Nov 01  |  Northern Ireland
Timeline: Dissident republican attacks
02 Aug 02  |  Northern Ireland
Bomb blast outside BBC
04 Mar 01  |  UK News


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