IRA 'quartermaster' is jailed for 30 years: Arms haul contained six Kalashnikov rifles and enough Semtex to build 80 bombs during campaign of violence in Britain

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The Independent Online
A 'DANGEROUS and dedicated' terrorist who supplied an IRA gang which carried out a bombing campaign in London was jailed for 30 years at an Old Bailey court yesterday.

James Canning was found guilty of conspiring to cause explosions and possessing enough Semtex to build 80 bombs. Mr Justice Leonard told him: 'You are a dangerous man committed to achieving the ends of a terrorist organisation by violent means.'

The judge, describing Canning as a quartermaster, added: 'You played an important and sustained part in the bombing campaign in this country. You were the keeper and provider of Semtex and other components of explosive devices.'

Police found more than 38kg (84lb) of Semtex explosives, timers and power units - including one with an anti-handling device designed to injure bomb disposal officers - and incendiary devices at a lock-up garage used by Canning.

The haul was enough for a campaign of terrorism and only the lack of sufficient, suitable detonators hindered it, the judge said. He described Canning as a 'menace' from whom the public had to be protected.

The jury also convicted him of possessing six Kalashnikov rifles, including one used in an assassination attempt on Sir Peter Terry, the former governor of Gibraltar, and a loaded revolver.

The judge said Canning was also linked to the attempted bombing of the Beck Theatre in Hayes, west London, in June 1991, where the band of the Blues and Royals Regiment were performing a concert. He said it was only 'extraordinary good fortune' that the 27lb (12.25kg) terrorist bomb failed to explode and kill people.

Canning, 37, was cleared of planting a bomb in Soho which exploded three days before the last general election. Helena Kennedy QC, for Canning, said he had specifically instructed her to offer no mitigation on his behalf.

Ethel Lamb, 60, his lover, known as Audrey, was cleared of possessing Semtex and conspiracy to cause explosions. The jury found her guilty of possessing the rifles and providing Canning with money and other aid knowing it might be used for acts of terrorism. She was jailed for a total of three years.

The judge said she had shown genuine contrition, but for justice to be done a jail sentence had to be passed.

Ann Curnow QC, for Lamb, said she had always been prepared to plead guilty to the charges on which she was convicted. Miss Curnow described Lamb as 'a vulnerable and pathetic creature' who formed a 'fatal association' with Canning after being abandoned by a man she had lived with for 22 years.

She allowed herself to be exploited financially, sexually and emotionally, Miss Curnow said.

After her arrest, Lamb co-operated fully with police in a series of emotional interviews and now feared reprisals.

An IRA bomber was jailed for 18 years and given a total of 166 years in concurrent sentences at Belfast Crown Court for a series of terrorist crimes. Michael Roulston, 35, was convicted of 16 offences, including attempted murder, conspiracy to murder, causing explosions, possessing guns and bombs, and IRA membership.

(Photograph omitted)