Friday, March 19, 1999 Published at 14:28 GMT
IRA killer laughs at sentence
Stephen Restorick: The last British soldier killed by the IRA
A top IRA killer laughed at three life sentences for murder, confident he will be freed in little more than a year.
He was also sentenced to a total of 490 years for a catalogue of terrorist offences including making the bombs destined for Canary Wharf, the Baltic Exchange and Hammersmith Bridge in London.
Under the early release scheme, all terrorist prisoners sentenced for crimes committed before the agreement will be let out by 28 July, 2000.
MGinn laughed and shouted to friends as he and three other defendants were led away handcuffed by prison officers at Belfast Crown Court.
L/Bdr Restorick was shot in the back by a sniper at an army checkpoint in Bessbrook, County Armagh, in February 1997. He had been talking and smiling to a Catholic woman when he was killed.
With her husband John by her side, she said: "I feel justice has been done. But at the same time we have the problem of early releases - they could be released in just over a year's time.
"I think considering the seriousness of the crime, and also the fact that [Irish Prime Minister] Bertie Ahern has said the murderers of a Garda will not be eligible for early release, I believe the same consideration should be given for this case."
Three life sentences
McGinn, 41, from County Monaghan in the Irish Republic, was also found guilty of the murder of two other British soldiers.
They were Lance Bombardier Paul Garrett in South Armagh 1993 and former Ulster Defence Regiment soldier Thomas Johnston in 1978.
McGinn had admitted to police that he had made explosives north and south of the border on an almost daily basis - "like a day's work".
McGinn and three other men were also found guilty of conspiring to murder a person or persons unknown in April 1997.
Michael Colm Caraher, 31, from Cullyhanna, Martin Mines, 30, of Silverbridge, and James McCardle, 29, of Crossmaglen, all in south Armagh, were also found guilty with McGinn of possessing the high-powered Barrett Light 50 rifle and an AKM assault rifle used in the sniper attacks.
Caraher was also found guilty of attempted murder of RUC Pc Ronnie Galway. He was shot and injured in a sniper attack at Forkhill in South Armagh in 1997.