Old Bailey bomber avoids new jail sentence for dissident offences

Old Bailey bomber Marian McGlinchey has avoided a return to jail after being handed a suspended sentence for dissident republican terror offences, one linked to the murder of two British soldiers.

McGlinchey, who was given a life term in 1973 for her part in the bomb attack on the London court, last year plead guilty to providing a mobile phone to the Real IRA gang that gunned down the soldiers outside Massereene Army barracks in Antrim in 2009 and, two years later, aiding and abetting a masked man who read out a Real IRA statement advocating violence against police officers.

Judge Gordon Kerr QC today sentenced the 59-year-old, formerly known as Marian Price, to a total of 12 months' imprisonment for both offences - concurrent sentences of 12 months for providing the phone and nine months for assisting the dissident statement.

But the judge told Belfast Crown Court he was suspending the sentence for three years.

At a pre-sentence hearing last month, a lawyer for the republican, from Stockmans Avenue in west Belfast, had claimed another jail term would exacerbate her chronic physical and mental health problems.

In the wake of the incident in 2011, when she held a speech for the man at a republican rally in a Derry cemetery, then Northern Ireland Secretary Owen Paterson revoked her life sentence release licence, which had been imposed when she was freed after serving seven years for the Old Bailey attack.

She was re-released by Parole Commissioners last year on health grounds.

In the latter part of that two-year stint in custody she was held in a hospital mental health unit setting.

Judge Kerr said her deteriorating health was one factor he had considered when suspending the sentence, as well his assessment that McGlinchey posed a low risk of re-offending and the fact that she had served a period of custody in respect of the breach of her licence conditions.

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