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Prosecuting Terrorism

Terrorism, race hate, crimes against humanity, war crimes, violent extremism, hijacking and espionage cases are tackled by a specialist team of Crown Prosecutors. The Counter Terrorism Division of the CPS includes highly experienced prosecutors, advocates and caseworkers who work closely with the police to bring offenders to justice.

Find out more about how we prosecute cases of terrorism.

Royal Marine jailed for dissident Irish republican bomb making


A former Royal Marine Commando from Devon has today (31 July) been given a 18 year prison sentence for possessing items for use in a terrorist attack. These included 14 pipe bombs, two anti-personnel mines and enough material to make a further 19 pipe bombs.

Ciaran Maxwell pleaded guilty to terrorism offences including hiding enough chemicals at sites in Devon and Northern Ireland to make more than 100 kilograms of explosives.

He accepted that the devices he was making would end up in the hands of violent dissident republican terrorists.

Maxwell was also found with lists of key government, police and military defence locations and personnel. It is thought these may have been possible targets.

He also pleaded guilty to possession of cannabis with intent to supply. He was cultivating cannabis plants at an address in Devon in order to sell supplement his income. The plants found could potentially produce 810g of cannabis with a street value of £8,100.

Maxwell also pleaded guilty to a third count of possession of articles for use in fraud after being found with digital copies of various bank and identity cards of his military colleagues.

Sue Hemming from the CPS said: "The strong case presented by the CPS - including his DNA found on items recovered from the various sites in Northern Ireland, fingerprint matches and hand-written notes - left Maxwell with little choice but to plead guilty.

"The large amount of chemicals, explosives and components Maxwell stockpiled could have caused serious harm and Maxwell accepted by his plea that he intended to assist others to commit terrorist acts.

"During police interviews Maxwell never fully explained the motives behind his actions but the public is undoubtedly safer with these items out of circulation."

Further information:

At the time of his arrest, Ciaran Maxwell (dob 06/12/1985) lived in Exminster and was a serving Royal Marine Commando, attached to 40 Commando based at Norton Manor Camp in Taunton, Somerset. He enlisted in September 2010. He was never deployed to Northern Ireland.

He was charged with:

  • Count 1 - preparation of terrorist acts, contrary to section 5(1)(a) of the Terrorism Act 2006 between 1 January 2011 and 24 August 2016;
  • Count 2 - possession of a controlled drug, namely cannabis a class B drug, with intent to supply to another contrary to section 5(3) and (4) of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 on 24 August 2016; and
  • Count 3 - possession of articles for use in fraud, contrary to section 6 of the Fraud Act 2006 between 1 November 2015 and 24 August 2016.

He pleaded guilty to all three counts at the Old Bailey on 3 February 2017. His sentencing took place between 26-28 July 2017.

He was sentenced to:

  • Count 1 (s5 Terrorism Act) - 23 years sentence consisting of 18 years custody and an extended licence of 5 years
  • Count 2 (drugs) - 18 months' imprisonment concurrent
  • Count 3 (Fraud) - 2 years imprisonment concurrent


Notes to Editors

  1. Sue Hemming is Head of the Special Crime and Counter Terrorism Division in the CPS
  2. For the latest in breaking news from the CPS Press Office follow @cpsuk on Twitter and visit our official News Brief -
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