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Loyalist murder accused charged over pipe-bombing

One of the men accused of murdering loyalist paramilitary chief Tommy English appeared in court yesterday charged with new terrrorist offences connected to a pipe-bombing seven years ago.

Ronald Bowe (33) was arrested by detectives investigating an |alleged attempt to stop a doorman from testifying about a brutal |assault he was subjected to.

Trevor Gowdy was beaten |outside a social club in Newtownabbey in December 2002 — an attack for which former top loyalist and alleged police agent Mark Haddock was given a 10-year jail sentence.

Bowe, formerly of Mount Vernon Road, Belfast, has been charged with conspiracy to intimidate Mr Gowdy, conspiracy to cause an explosion, possession of explosives, and membership of the outlawed Ulster Volunteer Force.

The alleged offences relate to a pipe-bomb strike in September 2003 at the family home in Larne, Co Antrim, of Mr Gowdy's then girlfriend.

Three other men have also been charged in connection with the attack. The case has been brought by officers from the PSNI's serious crime branch as part of Operation Ballast, an ongoing probe into UVF crime in north Belfast.

A detective sergeant told Belfast Magistrates Court he could connect Bowe with the offences.

A defence lawyer confirmed that no bail application would be made as the accused is currently in custody.

Bowe is among 11 men charged over the assassination of English, a high-ranking member of the rival Ulster Defence Association, in October 2000.

The 40-year-old victim was gunned down in front of his wife at their home on the Ballyduff estate, Newtownabbey, during a paramilitary feud which claimed four lives in five days.

Bowe was remanded in custody to appear again via video-link next month.

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