A north Belfast man has been remanded in custody charged in connection with the largest Semtex seizure for the last ten years.

Thomas Hughes (47) originally from Glasgow but with an address in the New Lodge area, was charged with possession of 2.5kg of Semtex explosives with intent to endanger life.

A detective outlined how the plastic explosive had been found in an airing cupboard at Hughes’ flat.

The officer told Belfast Magistrates Court that Semtex is used solely by republican terrorists, most recently dissident republicans.

During cross examination the officer agreed that Hughes has a clear record, had given an account that a key to his flat had gone missing and was then found in the possession of an alleged tiger kidnapper.

Defence solicitor Michael Madden said that Hughes was “shocked and horrified” to learn that “highly volatile” Semtex was in his home.

Mr Madden said Hughes came from a republican background, but was a strong supporter of the peace process and was “vehemently anti any dissident activity”.

The solicitor said Hughes lived at his partner’s address and others had access to the flat. He added that his client has a drink problem and was an “unsuspecting easy target”.

The district judge said due to the fact that Semtex is known for its use in terrorist activities, it would be foolhardy to release Mr Hughes on bail and remanded him in custody until May 30 when he will appear in court again.

The Belfast Telegraph