Shane Stevenson (35) and Paul McKerr (54) were sentenced today, Monday 11 September, at Newry Crown Court.

Stevenson had previously pleaded guilty to possession of firearms in suspicious circumstances, possession of firearms without a firearms certificate, and attempted possession of information of use to terrorists.  He was sentenced to 16 months in prison, with a further 12 months on supervised licence upon his release. He is also subject to notification requirements under the Counter Terrorism Act 2008 for a further 10 years.

McKerr, who had previously been convicted of possession of firearms in suspicious circumstances and possession of firearms without a firearms certificate, was sentenced to nine months in prison.

Detective Superintendent Griffin from the Police Service's Terrorism Investigation Unit said: “On 21 February 2018, officers stopped a van in Lurgan that was being driven by McKerr, with Stevenson in the passenger seat. 

“A search of the vehicle revealed a bag containing 22 empty magazines, compatible with AK47/AKM assault rifles. In a follow-up search of Stevenson’s home, officers found two hand-written notes hidden within the insulating cavity of a flask.  The notes contained details of vehicles using Lurgan Police Station on various dates that February.

“Forensic evidence has been key to this investigation. The magazines were covered in an oil-like substance, which was also found on gloves within the van.  The gloves were subsequently forensically linked by DNA to both defendants. 

“Furthermore, the hand-written notes within the flask were linked to Stevenson through DNA and fingerprints.”

Detective Superintendent Griffin continued: “It’s believed the firearms were being transported on behalf of the New IRA for potential future terrorist use, while the handwritten notes indicate the active monitoring and targeting of officers. 

“Our officers are committed to keeping individuals and communities safe by working in partnership with our colleagues in the Public Prosecution Service to bring such offenders before the Courts.

“We will continue to investigate and disrupt terrorist activity, and the cowardly and deplorable actions of those who would seek to harm or kill. We would reiterate an ask for anyone with information to contact us on 101.  Information can also be provided, with total anonymity, to the charity Crimestoppers.”

Contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or online at