IRA man admits police caught him out

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The Independent Online
An IRA member who attempted to bring chaos to London yesterday admitted he had been "caught with the his trousers down" by the police.

But Gerard Hanratty, 38, denied he had told a jury at the Old Bailey "a load of rubbish" to get off a bomb plot charge.

Mr Hanratty has told the court he was part of an IRA unit that was attempting to use fake bombs in order to trick the emergency services into cutting the electricity supply for most of London and the surrounding area.

But the prosecution accuses him and seven other men of planning to use explosives to blow up six electricity sub stations in the South-East last year.

Nigel Sweeney, prosecuting, claimed Mr Hanratty was "telling a load of rubbish to get you all off, so you can get back home and carry on your war".

He said under the IRA code Mr Hanratty was regarded as a soldier in a war. "It is always nice to get back home and carry on fighting," he said.

Mr Hanratty replied that when he was arrested he decided he was "caught with my trousers down". The police then told him there were a number of explosive traces found in cars.

"At that point and at this point in time, I think you know and I know, there was never any explosives involved," he said.

"Basically I got my back up. I am being accused of conspiring to cause explosions. Myself and my colleagues are innocent of this charge - that is the reality."

Mr Hanratty said he decided to give evidence in the trial after claiming there were "a lot of distortions in the case".

"It is one thing to go to prison for a great expanse of years. It is another thing for me to go to jail for very extensive years on the basis of evidence which is not true," he said.

He told the court: "There was never any explosives or explosive traces in this case."

The prosecution alleges the IRA's plan to blow up six National Grid sub- stations was foiled by a joint police and security services operation.

The case continues.