IRA bomber sentenced to 25 years: Man convicted of Tyneside oil and gas attacks gives thumbs-up to judge

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The Independent Online
AN IRA terrorist was jailed for 25 years at the Old Bailey yesterday for taking part in a plot to bomb oil and gas depots in June last year.

Sean McNulty, 26, gave a thumbs-up sign to the judge and said 'That's no problem' before he was led to the cells.

He was convicted on Sunday of bombing the Esso oil terminal in North Shields and a British Gas depot at Redheugh on Tyneside.

'The fact that no one was killed or injured - as so easily could have happened - or extensive devastation resulted, helps you not one bit,' Mr Justice Stephen Mitchell told him. 'I have no doubt the results fell very far short of what you had hoped for.

'I have no desire to add to the long list of adjectives which have been used to describe people like you in the past. You will go to prison for 25 years.'

McNulty, a construction worker from North Shields, Tyne and Wear, had denied conspiring with others to cause explosions with the intent of endangering life or causing damage to property. His lawyers offered no mitigation before sentence.

McNulty was convicted after detailed scientific evidence and the testimony of a former girlfriend, Amanda Johnson, who appeared for the prosecution.

She told the jury of McNulty's allegiance to the IRA and his fanatical hatred of the British - although he was English by birth.

He had gloated when he heard of British soldiers being shot or killed, saying it served them right, according to Miss Johnson.

The bombs he planted at the Esso terminal both contained more than a kilo of Semtex. They ruptured pipelines and an oil tank, but fortunately all were empty, Nigel Sweeney, for the prosecution, had told the court.

He said a bomb component recovered from each site showed the devices were the work of the IRA.

One bomb blew a hole in a gas holder containing 1.4 million cu ft of methane, but British Gas staff and the fire brigade managed to prevent an explosion and the fire burnt itself out.

The same night, two more devices went off within minutes of each other at the Esso terminal, which had been the target of an attack in April.

The prosecution alleged that McNulty also took part in that attack but the jury was unable to reach a decision.

Fibres from his clothing and a footprint linked him to the explosions in June, the trial was told. Fibres found snagged on a hole cut in the perimeter wire of the Esso terminal court matched a pair of McNulty's trousers and a footprint matched a boot that he owned.

Traces of Semtex were found in his car and at a house he was known to visit. Other evidence linking him to the explosions included a petrol station security video which proved that he was in the vicinity of the Esso terminal 15 minutes before the device was timed to explode.