Men Jailed For Firearms Offences

Three men have been convicted of attempting to buy firearms and drugs online, with two of them being handed custodial sentences.

The prosecution at Laganside Crown Court on Monday 10 December follows an investigation by the PSNI's Paramilitary Crime Task Force (PCTF).

Darren Bennet, 23, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to possess firearms and ammunition with intent.

It is suspected the firearms were intended to supply paramilitary forces in Antrim, according to the PSNI.

The Carrickfergus man was sentenced to four years in prison, 20 months of which will be completed in custody and the following 28 on licence.

Mr Bennet also pleaded guilty to attempting to possess class A drugs with intent to supply and was sentenced to a further 30 months, half of which is to be spent in custody, to run concurrently with the first sentence.

42-year-old Thomas Morgan, also from Carrickfergus, plead guilty to encouraging and assisting the offence of attempting to possess class A drugs and was sentenced to four years in prison, 20 months in custody and 28 on licence.

Also pleading guilty was Scott McMurran, 26, from Belfast who admitted to encouraging and assisting the drugs offences and was handed 100 hours of community service to be completed over 12 months along with 18 months probation.
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Detective Inspector Lynne Knox from the PCTF said: "I welcome today's sentencing which demonstrates our commitment to removing firearms and drugs from our communities. We believe these weapons would have ended up under the control of paramilitaries who seek to rule communities with fear. In this case we believe these weapons may have been destined for use by the South East Antrim UDA. 

"These men were attempting to bring lethal weapons and drugs onto our streets. Guns are used for one purpose only and that is to kill and maim. There is no reason to justify why anyone would want to bring guns into our communities which pose a threat to everyone. When a gun is fired there is no guarantee where the bullet could end up or who it could harm. I am confident that the streets are safer now that we have prevented these men getting hold of weapons and ammunition. 

"In addition, a quantity of class A drugs was seized which I believe Mr Bennett intended to sell. Drugs cause harm and misery to those who take them, as well as to families who watch the effects of these substances on their loved ones. 

"Individuals involved in this type of criminality destroy lives and have no legitimate place in our society. We are committed to tackling illegal activity linked to drugs and firearms to ensure that communities can thrive and be free from the intimidation and violence."


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