By Anne Cadwallader
BELFAST — The British-led police team seeking the murderers of Lurgan lawyer Rosemary Nelson have charged a former British soldier with arms offenses and membership of an illegal loyalist organization.
William Ian Thompson, 28, of Hamiltownsbawn, Co. Armagh, was charged on March 16 with possessing arms and explosives. He was also accused of membership of the LVF.
There was a heavy security presence at Banbridge court as the accused was brought from Armagh RUC station, where he was arrested. The ex-Royal Irish Regiment (formerly UDR) soldier was charged with possessing an Uzi sub-machine gun, a sawed-off shotgun and 30 shotgun cartridges. He was also accused of possessing an explosive substance.
He was not charged in connection with Nelson’s murder. Nelson was killed by a car bomb near her home in March 1999.
Thompson stood impassively during the brief hearing. A detective sergeant said he could connect the accused to the charges. He told the court that Thompson was held for seven days before his arrest.
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The court heard that Thompson denied the allegations and had no previous convictions. The officer confirmed that there was forensic and other evidence in the case.
The lawyer now acting for the Garvaghy Road Residents Coalition, after Nelson’s murder, has told of threats made against her. Padraigin Drinan has revealed that, despite being attacked several times, she has been refused protection by the RUC.
Incidents she has reported to the police include an arson attack on her home and a booby-trap incendiary device placed under her car. She has been denied membership of the Key Persons’ Protection Scheme.