Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 31 July 2014

Bomb suspect Keith McConnan is refused bail

Co-accused of bailed teenage girl actively involved in plot, judge says

Orla O'Hanlon
Orla O'Hanlon
Keith McConnan
Keith McConnan

An alleged dissident republican bomb-maker has been refused bail after a judge said he appeared to be "more actively involved in this enterprise" than first believed.

The comments were made by District Judge Eamonn King after he heard that the police investigation into 19-year-old Keith McConnan had revealed further evidence allegedly linking him to the manufacture of a "fully-fledged" bomb.

His 18-year-old girlfriend Orla O'Hanlon is also facing explosives charges.

A detective earlier told Newry Magistrates Court that a fingerprint belonging to McConnan was found on a bag containing a "fully constructed" timer power unit, that there was evidence indicating that he used a false name to buy both the unit and other component parts, and that a search of his home in Dundalk uncovered a large quantity of sugar-based material.

The officer said sugar-based material such as glucose, in conjunction with ground-down fertiliser, was often used to make improvised explosive devices.

McConnan, with an address at Tievecrom Road in Forkhill, faces three charges of possessing explosive substances with intent to endanger life and making an explosive substance with intent to endanger life on a date between December 15-18 last year.

O'Hanlon, of the same address, faces the same charges after police raided their home just before Christmas last year when they found the timer power unit, an industrial grinder with associated ground-down fertiliser and a large quantity of latex gloves.

Objecting to McConnan being released on bail, the officer described how the timer power unit was ready to be deployed and that it could be detonated remotely by a mobile phone.

He added that since the initial search, it had been confirmed the white powder found in the grinder, the kitchen and in a vacuum cleaner was ground ammonium nitrate fertiliser.

He also said that when McConnan's main address in Dundalk was searched, police found a quantity of sugar-based material.

The officer claimed that police had evidence that McConnan had used a fake name to buy the sugar-based material, the power unit and wire, adding that taking everything together "we have a fully-fledged home-made explosive device". Under cross-examination from defence lawyer Kelly Doherty, the officer agreed that McConnan had a clear record and that his girlfriend had been granted High Court bail, but he claimed that she would not have been released if the High Court had heard the same information.

He agreed there was no forensic DNA evidence linking McConnan to the evidence.

The officer said police were objecting to bail on the grounds that McConnan would reoffend and that he could flee the jurisdiction.

Bail was refused.

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