Man gets 25 years for IRA bomb plot: Judges tells court that terrorist plan to detonate three-and-a-half-tons of explosive would have caused enormous damage. Terry Kirby reports

AN IRISH lorry driver with convictions for importuning and indecency was yesterday sentenced to 25 years in prison for his part in an IRA plot to detonate its biggest terrorist bomb in Britain.

Patrick Kelly, 41, was also convicted of the attempted murder of Constable Raymond Hall, who was shot in the back by Kelly's accomplice after the police officer stopped the IRA lorry bomb during a routine check in November last year.

The Old Bailey jury was told that the three-and-a-half-ton bomb, packed in a lorry being driven by Kelly, had more than twice the destructive power of the bombs planted at St Mary Axe and Bishopsgate in the City of London and would have caused massive destruction. Although the bomb's timers were ready to be set for detonation, anti-terrorist branch officers were unable to establish its intended target, or why it was being driven north through Stoke Newington in north-east London during the middle of the night.

Sentencing Kelly, Mr Justice Leonard said the bomb 'would have caused enormous damage and destruction to property - and more importantly would have killed or seriously hurt anyone in the area'. As a driver, Kelly was not in command, but his responsibility had been 'enormous'.

After the lorry was brought to a halt by PC Hall and a colleague, Kelly and his accomplice were chased up a side road. There, the court was told, the accomplice pointed a gun at the bridge of PC Hall's nose and fired, but the officer ducked and the bullet grazed his scalp. As he fled, he was shot in the back. The bullet missed his vital organs and he later recovered from his injuries. The accomplice has not yet been caught.

After unsuccessfully trying to hijack a car, containing a young couple and a baby, Kelly was arrested a short distance away. Analysis of fibres linked him to a red sweater found abandoned nearby - which witnesses saw him wearing - and also to the lorry cabin; a particle of firearms residue was found on his face. The gun was discovered in a nearby garden.

Detectives could not establish firm links between Kelly and the Republican movement. He came from a farming family in Ballybrittas, County Laoise, left school at 13 and later worked as a lorry and crane driver, spending much of the last 20 years in England. Said by police to be bisexual, he has convictions in London in 1973 and 1989 for importuning and gross indecency. In 1987, he was convicted in Dublin, with three other men, of kidnapping a horse dealer. He was jailed for nine years, suspended for two.

It is understood Irish police had Kelly earmarked as a Republican activist. He may have been approached to become involved in the IRA's mainland campaign after returning home following the deaths of his parents in 1991.

Defence witnesses described him as 'a typical country boy'. The defence claimed he had nothing to do with the lorry and had been in England on a trip to buy 'computers, umbrellas and kettles' for a business. He did not give evidence.

PC Hall, 37, married with two children, has been a police officer since 1988; he is a former Royal Engineer who served in the Falklands. He said yesterday: 'I joined the police to serve the public and the public, in the form of the jury, returned their support with the guilty verdict.'

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Linux Systems Engineer - Linux, Windows, Cloud - Central London

£40000 - £48000 per annum + 10% bonus & benefits: Ashdown Group: Systems Engin...

Recruitment Genius: Quality Inspector

£20000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Female Buddy & Team Leader / Buddy

£11 per hour: Recruitment Genius: To join a team working with a female in her ...

Recruitment Genius: Configuration and Logistics Team Member

£16000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company has over 30 years ...

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence