A former American dance teacher and the Irish husband she once reportedly wrote a romantic novel about have been charged with possession of military-grade explosives and other terrorist offenses allegedly connected to dissident republicans.

According to the Belfast Telegraph Lesley Concannon, 32, a fitness and Zumba dance instructor, and her husband Kevin Barry Concannon, 39, an unemployed shop manager have been charged with possessing the explosive PETN with intent to endanger life or damage property or to enable others to do so.

It was an unexpected new chapter for the romance novelist. Lesley Concannon had moved to Northern Ireland two years ago from Charleston, West Virginia.

Attorney Joe McElhinney, who is representing Concannon, revealed that she first came to Northern Ireland on holiday with her father three years ago and during her visit she met her future husband. McElhinney added that his client 'had a romantic novel published based on her relationship with her husband.'

She and her co-accused are the parents of a 16-month-old girl.

The couple is charged with possessing articles for use in terrorism, namely a propellant consisting of magnesium ribbon aluminium filings and a de-activated Yugoslavian M56 sub-machine gun and a magazine in what police have called suspicious circumstances. 130 grams of PETN explosives were also found in a coal bunker at the rear of the couple's house wrapped in cling film.

'PETN is one of the most powerful explosives, of military grade, similar to Semtex,' a detective told District Judge Barney McElholm. The detective said PETN could be used either as an under-car booby-trap bomb or for manufacturing pipe bombs and it could also be used as a powerful detonator for a larger bomb.

Kevin Barry Concannon is also charged with collecting information likely to be of use to terrorists, taking 22 photos of the Merseyside Police Headquarters in Liverpool last year. Both defendants reportedly deny the charges against them.

The defendants' house was reportedly searched last Monday as part of an investigation into the discovery of four mortar bombs while they were being transported across the border from County Donegal to Derry on March 3.

A number of empty ammunition casings were also found which were similar to those used by the paramilitary group Republican Action Against Drugs for so-called punishment shootings.

On a laptop found in the house the officer said police discovered 30,000 search requests. One request stated, 'Can I take a gun on to a plane.'

Kevin Barry Concannon made no bail application. Both defendants were reportedly remanded in custody.

Lesley Hager and Barry ConcannonBelfast Telegraph