Neil Lennon parcel bomber freed from jail after just three years

Neil Lennon parcel bomber freed from jail after just three years

SECTARIAN thug who plotted to bomb Neil Lennon has walked free from prison after serving just three years of a five year sentence.

Neil McKenzie sent devices filled with nails to the former Celtic manager, as well as high-profile fans of the club Trish Godman, a former MSP, and the late Paul McBride QC.

The 44-year-old and his co-conspirator Trevor Muirhead, 46, also sent a suspect package to Glasgow-based Irish republican organisation Cairde na hÉireann.

Both men were jailed for five years in 2012 after they were found guilty of conspiring to assault their targets.

The pair believed the devices they sent in the post were capable of exploding and causing injury.

But after serving just three years of his sentence, which was backdated to May 2011, McKenzie has now returned to his home in Saltcoats, Ayrshire, and is trying to keep a low profile. Muirhead, meanwhile, remains in prison.

"He has done his time. Three years and 16 days- is that not enough?" McKenzie’s father-in-law Pat Cameron told Scottish newspaper The Daily Record.

McKenzie and Muirhead, from Kilwinning, North Ayrshire, were originally accused of conspiring to murder their targets. But the charge was thrown out due to insufficient evidence.

While none of the five devices they sent, two of which were addressed to Mr Lennon, was viable, prosecutors argued that the pair believed four of them were capable of exploding or igniting.

McKenzie, a member of the Scottish Unionist Association, argued that he learnt how to make a hoax bomb by watching the 1980s TV show the A-Team.

After a five-week trial at the High Court in Glasgow, a jury found both men guilty of the conspiracy to assault charge.

McKenzie was also found guilty of sending an item to Mr Lennon at Celtic Park with the intention of making him believe it would “explode or ignite”. Muirhead, a former member of the Orange Order and Apprentice Boys of Derry, was cleared of the same charge.

Judge Lord Turnbull said evidence at the trial had shown “beyond any doubt” that the devices could not have exploded due to insufficient explosive material or the lack of a detonator.

He added: "It is incomprehensible that two such family men in their forties would engage in such reckless and serious forms of criminal conduct.

"Even the sending of a parcel bomb as a hoax would always be a serious offence that would in itself be likely to end in a custodial sentence."