Belfast Telegraph

Friday 26 December 2014

Alliance office attack 'part of dissident plot'

A pipe bomb was thrown into the Alliance Party's south Belfast headquarters as part of a dissident republican campaign, the High Court heard yesterday.

The device, which did not explode, contained bullets and pellets and was designed to cause maximum damage and potentially kill, a prosecution lawyer said.

Details emerged as a taxi driver accused of taking a suspected bomber to the scene last Thursday night applied for bail.

Francis Carleton, of Conor Rise, Belfast, faces a charge of possessing explosives with intent to endanger life or cause serious injury.

The 37-year-old denies the allegation and claims he innocently picked up a fare without knowledge of the pipe bomb.

Carleton was arrested along with co-accused, Barry Boardman (43), of no fixed address, after explosives were thrown over a wall at the Alliance Party offices in the University Street area, the court was told.

Crown counsel Philip Henry said: "The device did not explode but was found to contain bullets similar to 9mm rounds of ammunition, and pellets similar to shotgun cartridges. It is understood it was designed to cause maximum damage and potentially fatal consequences."

Boardman was detained as he made his way back to the taxi where Carleton was waiting, according to the prosecution.

Mr Henry said Carleton claimed when he parked the car near the Alliance offices his co-accused got out and was out of sight for around 30 seconds.

Police intervened as Boardman made his way back to the vehicle, the court heard.

Opposing bail, the barrister said police believed Carleton was heavily involved in the alleged bomb plot.

Although he stressed that the accused has not been charged with paramilitary membership, Mr Henry added: "There was a campaign of incidents by dissident republicans over May 26 and 27... designed to cause significant disruption, and police are of the view that this was part of that campaign."

Kieran Mallon, defending, strenuously rejected any suggestion his client was involved in the pipe bomb incident.

After hearing both sides, the judge, Lord Justice Higgins, said he wanted to reflect on the application before giving his decision. He is expected to deliver his verdict today.

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