Pair to be sentenced for trying to buy guns on dark web in UDA feud plot
TWO Co Antrim men will be sentenced next week over a plot to buy guns from undercover police on the ‘dark web’ which was linked to a UDA feud in Carrickfergus.
Darren Bennett (23), of Church Road, Newtownabbey, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to possess two Glock pistols, 20 rounds of ammunition and attempted possession of cocaine and MDMA.
Thomas Morgan (42) from Burnside Road, Doagh, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to possess the firearms to “enable another person to cause a person to believe or fear unlawful violence would be used against them”.
A third defendant, Scott Colin McMurran (26) from Highvale Gardens, Belfast, pleaded guilty to providing Bennett with £1,990 to assist him in buying the Class A drugs.
Belfast Crown Court heard yesterday that Bennett used the dark web to firstly buy a Glock 19 pistol for £2k and later a Glock 17 for £990.
He was unaware that the people he was dealing with — ‘Joe’ and ‘Danny’ — were undercover police officers.
The court was told Morgan had directed Bennent to try and buy the guns, but at one point he pulled out of the deal fearing that they were being “cheated” by the suppliers because they could not test fire the guns before purchase.
Judge Desmond Marrinan heard that it was at this point Bennett enlisted the help of McMurran to help him to put up the money, and he hoped to sell the guns to Morgan.
But defence counsel told the hearing that McMurran thought he was buying drugs.
The court heard that the plot failed when Bennett turned up at Yorkgate shopping centre “dressed in his pyjamas”, as pre-arranged with the covert po- lice officers, and was arrested.
Police later recovered a parcel which contained cocaine and MDMA with a combined value of £4,000.
It was addressed to Bennett, who has a previous Class A drugs conviction.
The prosecution lawyer said the transaction did not involve imitation weapons but “live, working firearms” to be given to others.
The court heard the Glock pistols were “standard issue to members of the security forces”.
Defence barrister Mark Farrell said it was accepted by Bennett that he faced “a period in custody”, but he stressed his client’s actions were “amateurish” and “unsophisticated”.
Morgan’s defence counsel his client had tried to act as a “mediator” between the two sides involved in the feud in Carrickfergus but “without success”.
He told Judge Marrinan that Morgan had taken steps to protect himself after being informed by police on three separate occasions that he was the subject of death threats.
However, the prosecution told the judge that it was not accepted that Morgan had attempted to purchase the guns as “protective weapons”.
All three defendants are due to be sentenced on Monday.