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Alleged UVF boss is denied bail on pipe-bomb charge

An alleged former UVF commander accused over a pipe-bomb attack in 2003 is under investigation for up to eight other incidents, the High Court has heard.

Prosecutors said tests are being carried out on a sympathy card as part of a wider probe into suspected attempts to intimidate a doorman out of testifying about a brutal beating he was subjected to.

William Young (41), of Silvio Street, Belfast, is among a number of men charged in connection with an alleged plot to target the girlfriend of assault victim Trevor Gowdy. He denies conspiracy to cause an explosion, intimidating a witness and UVF membership.

He was refused bail after a judge rejected defence arguments about delays in the case. The alleged offences relate to a pipe- bombing in 2003 at the family home of Mr Gowdy's then partner.

At the time he was due to testify about an attack on him near a Newtownabbey club in 2002.

Alleged police agent Mark Haddock was later sentenced to 10 years in prison for the assault.

A Crown lawyer confirmed the evidence was supplied by Robert Stewart, a former commander in the organisation who, with his brother David, turned supergrass.

Kate McKay, prosecuting, told the bail hearing how Mr Gowdy had survived an attempt to murder him by leading members of the UVF in Mount Vernon, Belfast.

The court heard Robert Stewart confessed to police last year about his role in the attack, naming Young among five men at a meeting to plan it, said the prosecution.

It was alleged that a day before the attack Young and another man drove two other suspects to the house. The following night a pipe-bomb was placed on a window sill but rolled off, detonating at ground level. No-one was hurt.

Mrs McKay said the probe by the Historical Enquiries Team was handed over to the PSNI in March.

She added there were inquiries ongoing in respect of potentially eight other incidents “which may or may not involve this applicant and may lead to further charges”.

She also told the court enhanced DNA analysis was being carried out, along with fingerprint tests on sympathy cards connected to the alleged intimidation.

The court was told neither relate to the pipe-bombing incident.

Jonathan Browne, defending, said: “This is the first time the defence have heard anything in relation to fingerprints on sympathy cards. We are entirely unaware what that is or what that means.”

He argued there was no evidence on the pipe-bombing to corroborate Stewart’s claims.

Refusing bail, Lord Justice Higgins said: “I do not consider, given the nature of the case the applicant faces, that the passage of time that has elapsed is such that it should require his release on bail at this point in time.”

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