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Court hears claims that unemployed schizophrenic man and his classroom assistant wife who face terror charges were preparing for a ‘doomsday scenario’

A court has heard an unemployed schizophrenic man and his classroom assistant wife, who face terror-related charges relating to an alleged bomb-making factory, were preparing for a “doomsday scenario”.

Robert James Templeton (33) and Natasha Templeton (31), both of Cladytown Road at Glarryford near Ballymena, were preparing for the end of the world, Coleraine Magistrates Court was told.

A police officer said Natasha Templeton said both she and her husband are Christians and were following a doctrine that they were preparing for “End times”.

The detective said that was believed to be a reference to the “Apocalypse” and the “Second Coming” which involved people believing they should hoard items for that purpose. He said that normally referred to just food.

A defence lawyer said there had been a sermon a number of months ago at a church in the Ballymena area “about a doomsday scenario” in which church-goes were encouraged “to stock their cupboards”.

The couple were remanded in custody after District Judge Liam McNally refused bail applications as he believed the material, which also included a large haul of ammunition, was being stock-piled for “nefarious” reasons.

As well as a large quantity of chemicals, which police believe were for making “home made explosives,” there were also items for making “improvised explosive devices” and “pipe bombs”.

Other items found at the property included a horde of swords, knives, axes, balaclavas, walkie-talkies and a book entitled ‘US Army Improvised Munitions Handbook’.

A PSNI Detective Sergeant opposed bail for the couple, each of whom had clear records.

The officer said police went to search an address at Cladytown Road on Friday July 5 this year and the property was “a bit of a shambles” with lots of material “strewn all over the place”.

He said Natasha Templeton told police there were chemicals and ammunition present.

The officer said police found numerous items including five kilos of ammonium nitrate and an imitation 8mm firearm and a drill bit which he believed he could be used to bore out the barrel and turn it into a weapon.

There were 150 rounds of .22 ammunition, 78 rounds of 9mm ammunition and over twenty shotgun cartridges.

The detective said he believed the ammonium nitrate could be used to make “homemade explosives”.

The officer said there were a number of component parts of “pipe bombs”.

The detective said there were also a large number of eggs which he believed could be used to mix with other substances to make explosives but that Robert Templeton said he took them as part of a “high protein diet”.

The officer said Robert Templeton said he was an “impulse buyer” who purchases items from the internet and the defendant said he had the ammonium nitrate to make “ice packs”

The couple each face a number of charges including possessing explosives with intent to endanger life; possessing explosives under suspicious circumstances; possessing ammunition with intent; possessing records useful to terrorism; and preparation of terrorist acts.

A defence lawyer for Robert Templeton said the defendant denied having any ideology that would encourage violence and said he was closely attached to a church and involved in a “cross-community” Neighbourhood Watch initiative to rid the streets of heroin needles in Ballymena.

The defendant, it was said, ordered the ammonium nitrate through his bank account and Paypal and had come to the attention of police monitoring the internet and the “dark web”.

The lawyer said police seized all the items.

The lawyer said Robert Templeton was “gathering material in the event there was a power outage” and had ordered a US army manual as part of his research into “prepping” but had never read it.

He said there was nothing found in the house linked to any paramilitary group or any “extremist grouping” or involving violence being perpetrated on any government or any section of people.

The lawyer said Robert Templeton had worked until five years ago when he fell through a set of stairs and injured his back.

The lawyer said his client had handed in a gun licence a number of years ago because he had “suicidal” ideas and had been diagnosed with schizophrenia.

Part of the illness was “hoarding” and after viewing You Tube he would order items on eBay, the defence told the court.

Natasha Templeton’s defence lawyer said the defendant was not connected to any paramilitary group.

He said that although the defendant attends a “very popular church in the Ballymena area” there was “nothing radical” about it.

He said the allegations she was facing had “absolutely nothing to do with her faith”.

The lawyer said there had been a sermon a number of months ago “about a doomsday scenario” in which church-goers were encouraged “to stock their cupboards”.

Refusing bail, Judge McNally said the couple were facing serious charges which could attract ‘life’ in prison and police feared further offences.

He said items had been found at their home and what previously was probably a normal household with Natasha Templeton going to a local church and being a classroom assistant.

However, behind the walls of the house, the judge said, police found a number of chemicals and other items and there seemed to have been a “concerted and determined effort” over a period of time to obtain those.

The judge said it was “disturbing” as to what the couple’s intention was and said it was quite obvious material was being stored for “nefarious” reasons.

He said he could not give bail for fear of further offences especially regarding Robert Templeton and his diagnosis of schizophrenia.

The couple were remanded in custody to appear at Ballymena Magistrates Court in August.

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