Soldiers jailed for plotting to steal and sell explosives

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The Independent Online

Three soldiers who plotted to steal explosives, including grenades, from army barracks and sell them to criminals were jailed yesterday.

Colour Sergeant Garry Graham, 37, and L/Cpl Martyn Fitzsimmons, 28, were arrested after police searching for drugs at the home of a former soldier, Andrew Quinn, found military ordnance, including plastic explosives of the type often used in terrorist attacks. Their co-conspirator, Sgt Kieran Campbell, 27, was jailed for four years after pleading guilty and giving evidence for the prosecution.

Jailing Graham and Fitzimmons for for 12 years at Maidstone Crown Court, the judge, Mr Justice Akenhead, said: "These offences are ... among the most serious serving soldiers can commit. They stemmed from dishonesty and the motive was money."

Further investigations following the raid led to searches of quarters used by Fitzsimmons in which explosives and detonators were found hidden inside his locker. The lethal stash, the court was told, was then moved with the help of the colour sergeant and sold to Quinn for around £3,000.

The defendants were members of the 5th Battalion, the Royal Regiment of Scotland (Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders) at Howe Barracks in Canterbury. Graham, a veteran of 20 years, told police he "found" the explosives in an office while preparing for duty in Afghanistan and put them in his locker before going off on leave.

The raid on Quinn's home in Glasgow led to the recovery of 2kg of heroin. The 26-year-old was discharged from the Army after failing a drugs test. He pleaded guilty in June to conspiracy to possess explosives, and to dishonestly undertake or assist in the retention, removal, disposal or realisation of stolen goods, but denied a charge of conspiracy to steal explosives. He will be sentenced on 30th October.

Mr Justice Akenhead called for an immediate inquiry to examine how the offences were allowed to occur. He said: "The Army needs to urgently conduct an inquiry." He added: "These three serving soldiers have dishonoured their battalion, their regiment and their country."