A man from Co. Donegal and a man from Co. Cavan, who were due to go on trial for the attempted murder of a student policemen in Garrison four years ago, have pleaded guilty to a number of offences.
Former Irish soldier Gerard James McManus (28) and Kevin Barry Nolan (35) pleaded guilty at Belfast Crown Court on Monday to having a firearm with intent to endanger life on November 21, 2009 in Garrison, Co. Fermanagh.
McManus, from Fernhill, Letterkenny, and Nolan, of Main Street, Blacklion, also admitted to possessing articles likely to be used in the preparation or instigation in acts of terrorism.
The court heard these related to a car, a balaclava, gloves, lighters and soap.
The charge of attempting to murder the PSNI officer was left on the books and “not to be proceeded with without leave of the Crown Court or the Court of Appeal,’’ said a prosecuting counsel.
McManus had pleaded guilty last November to using a gun to resist his arrest by police during an undercover security force operation.
Nolan, who once stood unsuccessfully as an independent republican candidate, polling only 115 votes, surrendered himself. from his bail.
Judge Corinne Philpott QC remanded the pair into custody and will sentence them on Thursday, January 30.
Although no details surrounding the shooting or their arrests were given to the Crown Court, during a series of Magistrates’ Courts sittings, they heard that McManus and Nolan claimed they had no intention of shooting the trainee officer, only to scare him. They were allegedly spotted in a Vauxhall Astra approaching his home before police moved in.
McManus, wearing a balaclava, allegedly went to the front door, while Nolan remained in the front passenger seat of the Astra, where he was later arrested, allegedly sitting on a magazine, loaded with 16 rounds for a Glock pistol.
McManus escaped, running down the side of the house and firing off a shot. He was apprehended at 8am the following day in a garden shed and, while a mask and gloves were found in the shed, no gun was recovered.
During interview, both men maintained they had no intention of harming the student police officer. McManus told detectives: “There was no way I was going to shoot him .....I was going to fire a couple of shots in the air....to scare him, wanted to terrify him like.”
In his interviews Nolan, whose alleged role was to give McManus directions, claimed that as far as he was concerned: “No harm was going to be caused,” and that firing the gun was to, “put the frighteners on him”.