Belfast Telegraph

Alleged terror chief secretly taped by police refused bail

By Paul Higgins

An alleged dissident republican terrorist leader who was secretly recorded by police has been refused bail amid fears that he would reoffend.

Remanding 58-year-old Kevin O'Neill back into custody at Lisburn Magistrates Court, District Judge Amanda Henderson said while his criminal record was "extremely limited...I'm satisfied that the prosecution have provided evidence that there would be a risk of reoffending".

Father-of-three O'Neill, from Coolnasilla Park South in the Andersonstown area of west Belfast, faces two charges of being a member of a proscribed organisation and directing the terrorist activities of the IRA on dates between December 1 last year and June 25 this year.

Objecting to his release on bail, a prosecuting lawyer outlined how the evidence was based on five covert audio recordings, and that O'Neill had been identified on one taken on December 16 last year.

Alleging that O'Neill "appears to have a leadership role with Oglaigh na hEireann (ONH)," the lawyer claimed O'Neill was heard talking to a co-accused "about punishing a youth for anti-social behaviour".

Further claiming that his voice had been identified by a voice analysis expert, he said O'Neill told Mark Heaney: "I don't care who is in there, go on there and break his legs."

The lawyer also alleged that O'Neill discussed "shooting him in both knees, and what justification they could have to put him out of the country".

"The Crown objection is the risk of further offending based on the fact that we say all his activity is centred on the group of ONH in north and west Belfast, targeting drug dealers and anti-social behaviour," said the lawyer.

The prosecuting lawyer added that since 2011 "there have been 33 punishment shootings for this type of behaviour by ONH". Earlier this week at Belfast High Court, 48-year-old Heaney, from Lagmore Glen in west Belfast, was granted bail after a judge heard that he was the main carer for his mother.

He faces charges of IRA membership, conspiring with his co-accused to commit GBH on persons unknown, false imprisonment of 'person A', collecting information likely to be of use to terrorists, three firearms charges and a further charge that between January last year and last April he "authorised the carrying out of an attack on an unknown person to assist the commission of GBH with intent".

The other two defendants, 37-year-old Robert Warnock O'Neill, from Bingnian Drive, and Daniel McClean (47), from Hannahglen Heights, are also charged with IRA membership on the same dates.

Yesterday a detective constable agreed with O'Neill's solicitor Philip Breen that he only faces two charges and that, to date, there is only one covert recording he had allegedly been identified on, although the officer added that more evidence could be forthcoming as the expert continues his examinations.

O'Neill and the three co-accused are due back before the court on 15 September.

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