Men admit guilt in ‘dark web’ guns plot

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Two Co Antrim men have pleaded guilty to involvement in a plot to buy guns over the ‘dark web’ unaware they were dealing with undercover police.

One of the men, 23-year-old Darren Bennett of Church Road in Newtownabbey, also admitted plotting to possess the class A drugs cocaine and MDMA with intent to supply them to another.

The two men, Bennett and 42-year-old Thomas Morgan from Burnside Road, Doagh, each pleaded guilty to separate charges of conspiring, with each other, in February last year, to provide the handguns and suitable ammunition.

A prosecution lawyer told Judge Desmond Marrinan that the pleas were acceptable in satisfying the indictment, and that they were offering no further evidence on the first two counts on the indictment while other charges should ‘remain on the books’.

Judge Marrinan, sitting alone without a jury in the Diplock-style case, said he would return ‘not guilty’ verdicts on the first two charges, which had accused the men of the more serious offences of attempting to possess the firearms and ammunition with intent and under suspicious circumstances.

Both men were released on continuing bail before sentencing in December to enable time for pre-sentence and other reports to be compiled.