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Thursday, 8 March, 2001, 17:06 GMT
Self-styled loyalist pastor jailed
Peeples (right) had visited LVF prisoners in the Maze
Peeples (right) had visited LVF prisoners in the Maze
A prominent loyalist and self-styled north Belfast clergyman has been jailed for ten years for having two hand grenades and a pipe bomb in his car.

At Belfast Crown Court on Thursday morning Clifford Peeples, 31, from Woodvale Road admitted having the devices.

They were uncovered when the car was stopped by police as it approached the M1 motorway on the outskirts of Dungannon in County Tyrone on October 26, 1999.

Part of the pipe bomb detonated while the army was defusing it.

Peeples' friend James McGookin Fisher, 35, from Deerpark Road in Belfast pleaded guilty to aiding and abetting him.


The fact that you had adopted the mantle of leadership in your local community now serves to underline the wickedness of the crime you have committed

Mr Justice Gillan
The court heard the men had been ferrying the explosives for some future operation.

McGookin Fisher was sent to prison for eight years.

Sentencing Peeples, Mr Justice Gillen said: "I find no uplifting thread in your previous conduct.

"The fact that you had adopted the mantle of leadership in your local community now serves to underline the wickedness of the crime you have committed."


The community is plagued by the menace of pipe bombs and grenades and the possession of such explosive devices represents a grave danger to the whole community

Mr Justice Gillan
He added: "It may well be that from time to time the ghost of violence past is unlikely to lie quiet in this community, but whenever crimes of this kind are committed they demand and will receive a severe judicial response.

"The community is plagued by the menace of pipe bombs and grenades and the possession of such explosive devices represents a grave danger to the whole community."

When caught at the police checkpoint and asked to account for the bombs, Peeples had denied all knowledge of them.

Six months before his arrest, similar Russian made grenades were discovered in a west Belfast mission hall used by Peeples.

He was arrested, but released without charge.

Peeples was at one time involved in the anti-intimidation group Families Against Intimidation and Terror.

He also went to the Maze Prison to have discussions with prisoners of the loyalist paramilitary Loyalist Volunteer Force during a hunger strike protest over conditions there.

His increasing prominence in loyalist circles made him a target for republicans.

But when his flower shop on the Crumlin Road in north Belfast was ransacked four years ago, he blamed it on loyalist protection racketeers.

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