AFTER a Christian couple in Northern Ireland – Robert James Templeton and his wife Natasha, above – listened to a sermon that urged churchgoers ‘stock their cupboards’ in preparation for a potential ‘Doomsday scenario’, they allegedly went online to buy large quantities of chemicals, which police believe were for making ‘home made explosives.’
Police who raided the Templeton’s home last year also found swords, knives, axes, balaclavas, walkie-talkies and a book entitled US Army Improvised Munitions Handbook.
The discovery led to the arrest of the couple, who are currently on on bail, on terror charges – and in the news once more over a request to access church services on the Internet. Templeton’s bail conditions prevent him from going online.
Templeton has applied for the ban to be lifted so he can watch services from Green Pastures Church, located just outside his Country Antrim town of Ballymena.
Green Pastures, which was involved in a scandal last year involving a large donation it received from a bus company that then went bust, reportedly told police that Templeton and his wife had not attended services nor been on their “books” for some time.
A defence lawyer told Ballymena Magistrates’ Court on Thursday that if the Internet ban was lifted, a device belonging to Templeton’s wife, Natasha, could be used for the pair to view church services.
District Judge Nigel Broderick asked police whether it would be possible for Templeton to view the services while a relative monitors his activity and ensures that the device is switched off immediately after they end. Broderick suggested that such an arrangement would ensure the defendant could:
Maintain his religious beliefs and practice.
A detective constable in the case objected, insising that the alleged offences were “enabled by the Internet.”
He said it was “nigh on impossible” to “police” Templeton’s online activity by trawling through his browsing history.
After the couple were arrested, a police officer told a court that Natasha Templeton said both she and her husband are Christians and 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.
In 2019, 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.
Initially Templeton was remanded in custody, but bail was granted after a High Court challenge last year.