A man accused of ‘preparation of terrorist acts’ and storing swords, axes and knives alongside explosives and ammunition at his Glarryford home has applied for a bail condition – an internet ban – to be lifted to enable him to watch Green Pastures Church services online.
Robert James Templeton (34), with an address listed as Kintyre Park in Ballymena but formerly of Cladytown Road in nearby Glarryford, is currently banned from having any device capable of accessing the internet as part of his bail conditions.
A defence lawyer told Ballymena Magistrates Court, on Thursday, the internet ban was put in place because the defendant had bought a number of items mentioned in the charges he faces, over the internet.
The lawyer said if the internet ban was lifted a smartphone could be used to view church servics and it could be in the possession of Templeton’s wife Natasha (32) – who had worked as a classroom assistant – who is a co-accused in the case.
The solicitor said the couple could then view online religious services “from the church which they both belong to which is ‘Green Pastures’.”.
The lawyer said the church, at Galgorm, has not fully re-opened since the Covid lockdown, but the services are on the internet.
The solicitor said there had been a “break” in the Templeton’s relationship because of the “pressures of these charges” and when Natasha Templeton was living with a family member she was allowed access the online church services.
However, since her return to live with her husband they have not been allowed to view the services on the internet.
The lawyer said Robert Templeton would only look at the phone in connection with his “religious practices” and said the search history of the device could be checked by police.
A detective constable objected to the bail variation saying the alleged offences essentially were “enabled by the internet – things were bought from the internet”.
He said it was “nigh on impossible” to “police” use of internet by checking history.
The officer said Natasha Templeton had been allowed to view the internet when she was not with Robert but when she moved back in with her husband she agreed to gave up access to the internet.
The policeman said last year police had checked with ‘Green Pastures’ and were told the couple had not attended services or been on their “books” for a period of time.
District Judge Nigel Broderick asked if it would be possible if Robert Templeton could view the church footage with any other person – like a relative – who could act as a surety.
The judge adjourned the case for information to be brought back to see if that would be possible.
Judge Broderick said would mean the defendant could “maintain his religious beliefs and practice” and it would also mean his internet viewing could be monitored.
Judge Broderick said in such circumstances a relative would have to act as a surety and “police” Robert Templeton viewing the religious service and then the device would have to be turned off.
Robert Templeton faces a number of charges relating to July last year when items were found at Cladytown Road, Glarryford.
The charges include possession of ‘explosive substances, namely, component parts of multiple Improvised Explosive Devices, a quantity of various types of initiators, a quantity of various types and sizes of fill/shrapnel, a quantity of various types of pre-cursor chemicals for use in the manufacture of homemade explosives, a wireless firework firing system and a quantity of blank cartridges, with intent by means thereof to endanger life or cause serious injury to property’.
He is also charged with possessing ‘explosive substances, namely, component parts of multiple Improvised Explosive Devices, a quantity of various types of propellant, a quantity of various sizes of ball bearings, a quantity of various types of chemicals for use in Improvised Explosive Devices’.
The defendant is also accused of having ‘ammunition, namely, a quantity of shotgun cartridges, a quantity of 9mm calibre ammunition and a quantity of .22 mm calibre ammunition, with intent by means thereof to endanger life or cause serious injury to property’.
Another charge is that he ‘possessed certain articles, namely, a quantity of balaclavas, a quantity of Walkie Talkie communication devices, a Taser, an industrial drill with clamp, angle grinders, threading tool, soldering iron set, cylindrical block metal, rifling drill bit and a quantity of swords, knives and axes in circumstances which give rise to a reasonable suspicion that the said articles were in your possession for a purpose connected with the commission, preparation or instigation of an act of terrorism’.
Other charges include possession of an imitation firearm and having ‘information of a kind likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism, namely, a book entitled ‘US Army Improvised Munitions Handbook’.’.
Robert Templeton is also accused of ‘preparation of terrorist acts’ by ‘setting up of an operation to manufacture multiple improvised explosive devices and for the conversion of imitation firearms’.
Despite previous claims in court that the couple were allegedly stockpiling food for an “end times” scenario, a prosecutor later told another court last year: “It’s now accepted there doesn’t appear to be any sinister background to it.
“The press had described it as a doomsday-type scenario where they gathered together all these items for the possibility of shortages,” the prosecutor previously said.
The case was adjourned to next week.