Belfast Telegraph

Accused briefed terrorist chiefs on 'handy touch' targets, court told

By Alan Erwin

A man supplied dissident republican terror chiefs with information about where a prison officer goes rambling with his children, the High Court has heard.

Joseph Pearce also told a secretly recorded meeting of suspected Continuity IRA leaders that British soldiers outside a university campus near Belfast would be "such a handy touch", prosecutors claimed.

Bail was refused to the 45-year-old, allegedly referred to by a co-accused as providing a "world of information" on potential security force targets.

Pearce, of Clogharevan Park in Bessbrook, Co Armagh, is further accused of detailing how the location of a wealthy businessman's home made him vulnerable to coercion and robbery.

He is charged with two counts of collecting information likely to be of use to terrorists based on a covert MI5 recording operation at a house in Newry, Co Down.

The house at Ardcarn Park was raided on November 10 after being bugged for three months.

Seven other men have already been charged with a range of terrorist offences based on this evidence.

During the gatherings discussions involved possessing weapons and procuring explosives, making and transporting a bomb and potential police and prison officer targets, it was claimed.

According to the prosecution, Pearce attended just one of the bugged meetings, held in October.

The court heard that before he arrived co-accused Patrick Joseph Blair was recorded phoning and asking him to join the group.

Blair (59), from Villas Park, Dundalk, was remanded last month charged with directing terrorism and membership of a proscribed organisation.

Refusing bail, Mr Justice Treacy said: "I consider the risk of further offences... is a matter of grave concern."

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