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Six convicted of IRA plot to bomb British power stations

July 2, 1997

LONDON (AP) _ Six men, including a former U.S. Marine, were convicted today of conspiring to cause explosions in an IRA plot to turn off the lights in London.

Judge Thomas Scott Baker sentenced each man to 35 years in prison. Two other defendants were acquitted.

The men were arrested in raids in south London a year ago before a plan to bomb six electricity stations could be carried out, prosecutors said.

Gerard Hanratty, 37, one of those convicted, had testified that the Irish Republican Army planned to plant dummy bombs made of sugar at power stations outside London and thereby force authorities to turn off the power to deal with the threat.

Hanratty, who admitted being an IRA member, said he had thought the plan was ``brilliant.″

``The electrical impact would be total disruption in London. All the traffic lights would be out. It would result in chaos. All industries would be starved _ rail, tube and travel,″ Hanratty testified on June 5.

Hanratty said the intention was to force Northern Ireland higher on the political agenda and pressure former Prime Minister John Major to do something to accelerate the peace process in Northern Ireland.

The defendants were arrested in a series of raids July 15. Police said they seized 37 timers, detonators, false documents, maps, keys to the other premises and notes connecting the men to the IRA.

The others convicted were Donald Gannon, 33, Patrick Martin, 34, Robert Morrow, 36, Francis Rafferty, 44 and John Crawley, 39, who was born in New York and served in the U.S. Marines from 1975 to 1979.

A court order forbids disclosure of the men’s home addresses.

All had pleaded innocent to a charge of conspiring between Jan. 1 and July 16 last year to cause explosions likely to endanger life or cause serious injury to property.

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