A north Belfast man accused over the largest seizure of Semtex in the last 10 years has had the case against him dropped.

Prosecutors said they were withdrawing a charge that Thomas Hughes possessed explosives with intent to endanger life.

The decision, confirmed at Belfast Magistrates Court, follows a review of all available forensic evidence in the case.

Mr Hughes (47), of Maeve House in the New Lodge area, was arrested after police discovered 2.5kg of Semtex at the apartment complex in May.

It had been cut into two blocks and was wrapped in clingfilm and tinfoil.

Latex gloves and a knife suspected of having been used to divide the explosives were also seized.

Mr Hughes, originally from Scotland, was not in the property when police raided it.

At a previous court hearing his lawyer described him as coming from a republican background, being a strong supporter of the peace process and being vehemently opposed to any dissident republican activity.

Following confirmation of the prosecution position yesterday District Judge Fiona Bagnall ordered the charge against him to be withdrawn.

Mr Hughes’s solicitor Michael Madden said his client should never have been before the courts.

Mr Madden, of Madden and Finucane solicitors, said the hearing “marks the culmination of a sustained campaign of representations at remand hearings for the Public Prosecution Service and the PSNI to serve evidence alleged to connect our client to the high explosives haul”.

“This was a prosecution against Mr Hughes that should never have been brought,” he said.

“We made strenuous objections both in Antrim serious crime suite and at our client’s first remand hearing as to the sufficiency and strength of the evidence said to properly ground this charge.

“We are pleased that Mr Hughes can now look forward to putting this traumatic experience behind him and to getting back to his normal life.”

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The Irish News