Two men were sentenced today, Thursday 22 June, at Belfast Crown Court, having previously pleaded guilty to firearms-related offences.
Matthew Charles Johnston, aged 42, was sentenced to four years in custody. He is also subject to a Terrorism Notification Order for 10 years.
Eamonn Hutchinson, aged 42, was sentenced to three years – half to be served in custody and half on licence.
Detective Chief Inspector Hamilton from the Police Service of Northern Ireland said: “Today’s outcome follows a surveillance operation on 28 November 2017.
“That evening, the pair were observed test-firing an ‘Ingram 11’ type sub-machine gun. This was in the Westlink/Carlisle Road area of Belfast. A subsequent search of Johnston’s home address uncovered a large quantity of ammunition, some of which was armour-piercing. A collapsible stock was also recovered from the address that was compatible for use with the sub-machine gun.
“The two were arrested and, in April 2021, both pleaded guilty to possessing a firearm in suspicious circumstances. Johnston also pleaded guilty to additional offences, including possession of ammunition in suspicious circumstances and possession of articles for use in terrorism.”
Detective Chief Inspector Hamilton continued: “Officers from our Terrorism Investigation Unit remain totally committed to investigating and disrupting terrorist activity. Our aim will always be to protect communities and keep people safe from harm, and we will continue, with your support, to tackle those intent on bringing weapons and violence to our doorstep.
“I’m keen to encourage anyone with information, or indeed concerns, to contact us on 101”.
Information can also be provided to Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or online at www.crimestoppers-uk.org