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Military fanatic had fake gun at site of IRA blast

(First Edition)

AN ASPIRING Army officer arrested by anti-terrorist police after an IRA blast in London was carrying a fake pistol and forged Army ID, magistrates were told yesterday.

Alexander Taverner, 20, who has won a place at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, was caught after terrorists planted a bomb in Cadogan Place, Knightsbridge, in February. Horseferry Road magistrates in London were told bomb squad officers became suspicious about Taverner because of his persistent questioning about the bomb.

They searched him and found an imitation pistol, a fake Army identity card and a Kubatan - a Korean martial arts weapon. He was arrested under the Prevention of Terrorism Act and for possessing an offensive weapon, but was released after the IRA admitted the attack.

Joanne Brown, for the defence, said Taverner, a student, of Maida Vale, north-west London, had gone to the site of the bomb blast to cover it for his student newspaper, and 'foolishly asked a lot of questions'.

Taverner, described as a military fanatic, said he had been showing the imitation pistol to a friend. He was given a one-year conditional discharge and ordered to pay pounds 50 costs after pleading guilty to possessing an offensive weapon.