‘Cowardly’ pair guilty of parcel bomb plot against Celtic boss
Trevor Muirhead, 44, of Kilwinning, and Neil McKenzie, 42, of Saltcoats, both Ayrshire, were yesterday convicted of plotting to assault manager Neil Lennon, former MSP Trish Godman and the late QC Paul McBride, as well as people at the republican organisation Cairde Na hEireann last year by sending devices they believed were capable of exploding and causing severe injury.
Detectives leading the investigation condemned the men’s actions as “deplorable”, while prosecutors said it had been “an act of violence against Scottish society as a whole” and had impacted across the UK.
The pair, who denied the accusations, had committed a series of criminal acts designed to “intimidate and frighten” and their intention had been to “inflict harm on others”.
McKenzie was also found guilty of posting a hoax bomb to Lennon at Celtic Park at the beginning of March last year to make him believe it was likely to explode. The package was discovered by a Royal Mail worker in a postbox in Gladstone Road, Saltcoats, on March 4.
It came hot on the heels of a much-publicised “scuffle” between Lennon and the now Rangers FC manager Ally McCoist at an Old Firm match.
The jury at the High Court in Glasgow heard McKenzie told police he learned how to make a bomb after seeing it on the 1980s TV show The A-Team.
Giving evidence during the trial, Lennon told how he was left “very disturbed” after finding out he had been targeted.
The assault plot centred on four suspicious packages, all of them non-viable, which were discovered last spring.
A second device sent to Lennon at Celtic’s training ground in East Dunbartonshire, was intercepted at a sorting office in Kirkintilloch on March 26 last year when a postman spotted a nail protruding from it. It tested positive for peroxide, which can be used to make explosives.
Two days later a package delivered to Ms Godman’s constituency office in Renfrewshire was found to contain liquid in a plastic bottle which tested positive for the primary explosive triacetone triperoxide. Before the incident, Ms Godman, who was Labour MSP for West Renfrewshire, had been filmed wearing a Celtic top to the Scottish Parliament, which she claimed was meant to have been a private matter.
Another package, intended for Cairde Na hEireann in Glasgow’s Gallowgate, was found to contain potentially explosive peroxide.
The final package, found on April 15 in a postbox in Kilwinning, was addressed to the late Mr McBride.
The lawyer, who died suddenly days before he was due to give evidence at the trial, was known to have represented Lennon and Celtic.
Last night, Lennon said he was glad the “stressful and difficult” ordeal was over, but that he wished his good friend Mr McBride had lived to see the matter brought to an end.
He said Mr McBride “was someone who did nothing to deserve such a cowardly attack on his freedom.”
Detective chief superintendent John Cuddihy said: “Muirhead and McKenzie have been found guilty of the most cowardly and reckless of crimes.
“Muirhead and McKenzie’s deplorable actions were motivated by hatred and today’s prosecution sends out a strong message that this has no place in a modern Scottish society.”
Judge Lord Turnbull deferred sentence on the two men until April 27.