Three jailed over dissident operation in Limerick

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The special criminal court at Dublin’s CCJ

THREE men who were found in a stolen car in County Limerick armed with a sawn off shotgun have been jailed for their roles in a dissident republican operation.

At a sentencing hearing in the Special Criminal Court, Conor Hughes (40) and Darren Fox (27) were jailed for seven years while James Smithers (38) was sentenced to four and-a-half years’ imprisonment.

Hughes of Goatstown, Dublin, and Fox of Ballybrack, Dublin pleaded guilty to the unlawful possession of a Winchester 12-gauge, sawn-off, double barrel shotgun and two cartridges at Kyletaun, Rathkeale on October 31, 2015.

Smithers, of St Patrick’s Park, Tullow, Co Carlow, was convicted of membership of the IRA on the same date.

Gardaí saw Hughes driving from Dublin to Adare, while Smithers was also seen driving a stolen Volkswagen Golf to Adare on the same date in what Gardai described as a “reconnaissance mission”.

After they swapped cars, Hughes and Fox were arrested by members of the Emergency Response Unit while in possession of the shotgun, cartridges and a can of petrol.

Smithers, who Gardaí described as the getaway driver, was found in the other car a short distance away.

Imposing sentences, Ms Justice Isobel Kennedy, said that the operation was “premeditated” and involved “serious criminality”.