A County Antrim man who was jailed for 12 months for having an ‘Aladdin’s cave’ of weapons and bomb components in preparation for the ‘apocalypse’ has put ‘everyone at risk’ according to the PSNI.
Robert James Templeton (36), of Shancoole in Ballymena, has been told he will spend a further 12 months on supervised license on his release and will also be subject to a five-year violent offense prevention order to reduce his risk of recurrence.
A PSNI detective welcomed Templeton’s sentencing and said the case should offer “assurance of our continued commitment to keeping people safe”.
“Making and storing this abundance of explosives and weapons puts everyone at risk,” added Detective Chief Inspector Hamilton.
“Police, together with army bomb experts, carried out a search of a property in the Ballymena area on July 5, 2019. The search, carried out under a Terrorism Act warrant, revealed a treasure trove of potentially deadly devices.”
Templeton had pleaded guilty to possessing explosive substances and ammunition under suspicious circumstances, attempting to convert an object into a firearm, importing a friction baton, possessing a stun gun and ‘having possessed documents likely to be useful to a person “committing or preparing an act”. of terrorism”.
Police investigating the case heard claims, in an interview, that Templeton was a Christian and was preparing for the “end times”.
At an earlier hearing, a detective said it was a reference to “the apocalypse” and the “second coming”.
All offenses were committed between March 12, 2015 and July 5, 2019.
At Belfast Crown Court today it was heard that on July 5, 2019, police searched his ‘cluttered and disheveled’ home in Glarryford and discovered gunpowder, chemicals and fertiliser, fuses, fireworks, ball bearings, nuts and washers, pipes and metal tools, as well as ammunition and instruction manuals on making bombs and improvised firearms.
PSNI officers also discovered a catapult, large swords – including a samurai sword – a crossbow, bolts and a “significant amount” of food.
A book titled US Army Improvised Munitions Handbook was found in the master bedroom, which had a lock on the outside of the door.
Other documents seized included one titled The Zip Gun: The Simplest Of Improvised Firearms.
Prosecution barrister Samuel Magee QC said it could only be described as a “cave of weapons and bomb components from Aladdin”.
Police also recovered various chemicals, electrical components, metal hoses and stop bits, pyrotechnic devices, propellant, initiating devices (or parts thereof), tools and splinters. of shells.
Mr Magee told Judge Patricia Smyth it was accepted that Templeton had all the materials as a result of his “compulsive purchase for the purpose of making improvised explosive devices and that he had made no concerted effort to assemble these elements. So there is an element of hoarding in this case.
“When the police visited his home, when there were various chemicals and components which, if combined or moved from their containers, had the capacity to pose a risk to others, he did not there is no evidence at this time that they were stored in a way that would make them unduly volatile to others.
“There was an intention on the part of Mr. Templeton to bring these elements together.
“However, he had made no concerted effort to assemble them and no viable device was found or created by this defendant.”
During police interviews, Templeton initially refused to answer and instead gave a prepared statement in which he claimed he was “interested in making pyrotechnics and rockets”, his wife had nothing to do with it. To do with this, he had the various tools and pipes to make a block-cutting machine, and denied being associated with any paramilitary organization or with the instigation or preparation of terrorist acts.
He later offered what he called “innocent explanations” for the items, revealing that he believed in an “ideology of preparedness”, whereby worshipers gather items and prepare for cases such as economic and social collapse.
A phone seized by police showed messages from Templeton to another person looking to buy a gun and ammunition.
In her sentencing remarks, Justice Smyth said: “This is not a case where explosives and ammunition were held for terrorist purposes or on behalf of a terrorist organization.
“The defendant had no intention of providing any of the items in his possession to terrorists, but he accepts the risk of possessing these items if they came into the possession of those planning acts of terrorism.”
She said Templeton deliberately acquired the explosives and components with the intention of making devices capable of being lethal.
“However, they were not intended to target any particular individual or premises, but rather to construct and thereby satisfy his unhealthy interest in such devices,” the Belfast Recorder said.
“He intended to detonate any device he built on his own premises in circumstances where he accepts that doing so would be reckless as to the risk of injury to others and damage to property. others.”
Despite acquiring all of the components, Judge Smyth noted that Templeton had in fact built no viable device and had “no ties to any terrorist organization”.
A medical report said there was a link between the ex-electrician’s compulsive shopping habits and his addiction to a powerful opiate painkiller he was prescribed for a serious injury he sustained on the job.
But since quitting opiates, report says defendant’s mental health has improved, he has not relapsed and is under no obligation to purchase property online or in stores.
A pre-sentence report from the probation service said Templeton’s behavior appeared to have been motivated by a “descent into a bunker mentality of preparing for a much-feared and anticipated collapse of social order and the need to take measures to be able to survive. a catastrophic event”.
After the conviction, the Belfast Recorder ordered the destruction of all material seized by the police.
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