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Bomb was to be smuggled into Northern Ireland hotel before PSNI recruitment fair, court told

By Alan Erwin

Published 15/12/2015

Accused: Darren Poleon
Accused: Darren Poleon
Officers at the Waterfoot Hotel in Derry after the security alert

A bomb discovered near a Northern Ireland hotel was to be smuggled inside before it hosted a police recruitment event, the High Court heard today.

Prosecutors claimed two men made a 140-mile road trip to leave explosives concealed in a fire extinguisher among undergrowth close to the Londonderry venue.

The alleged plan was to return later and move the device to its intended final destination within the Waterfoot Hotel.

Details emerged as bail was refused to one of the pair accused of transporting the bomb parts across the Irish border on October 6.

Darren Poleon, 41, of Drumbaragh in Kells, Co Meath is charged with preparing an act of terrorism.

He faces further counts of conspiracy to cause an explosion, and possessing an improvised explosive device with intent to endanger life or cause damage to property.

Co-accused Brian Walsh, 34, of Dunshaughlin in Co Meath is charged with the same offences.

Prosecution counsel said the pair were in a car stopped by police in Omagh three days before the bomb was discovered.

They claimed to be in Northern Ireland to buy an engine, the court heard.

Officers found a rucksack, bolt cutters, walkie-talkies, binoculars, a head torch, toy gun, latex gloves, wigs and a fake beard inside the vehicle.

At that stage Poleon and Walsh were arrested on suspicion of going equipped for theft, but later released on bail.

But the prosecution barrister claimed the landscape changed after the explosives were uncovered on October 9.

She said: "The police view is the device was at a transit location - it was to be moved closer or within the hotel prior to the PSNI recruitment event to take place the following day."

Examination of the satellite navigation system in the car Poleon and Walsh were in revealed it travelled from Co Meath to the "destination" at a roundabout near the Waterfoot Hotel, the court heard.

According to the prosecution the sat nav also contained an address for Belfast Metropolitan College - where a similar police meeting was to be held.

Police believe parts of the device - containing 1.5 kilos of low explosives - were carried down a slope in parts and connected at a car park to be rendered viable.

Footage recovered from a supermarket in Co Cavan allegedly shows the two accused buying a rucksack on October 6.

Judge Gordon Kerr QC was told a reservation at the hotel for the night before the recruitment event was made using Poleon's name and a phone number allegedly attributed to his wife. No one turned up for the booking.

Joe Brolly, defending, argued that the case against his client was "replete with speculation", with no DNA or fingerprint evidence linking him to the scene of the bomb find.

"There's nothing to suggest he ever had contact with the IED," the barrister insisted.

Mr Brolly also disputed allegations about the sat nav and hotel reservation.

Contending that the device could have been left in the undergrowth a month previously, he added: "It's a very weak circumstantial case."

Items found in Poleon's car were only Halloween garments, a plastic cowboy gun and a child's walkie-talkie belonging to his son, the court was told.

Refusing bail, however, Judge Kerr held there was prima facie evidence of involvement in a "very sophisticated and clearly terrorist-type operation".

He added: "The circumstances and nature of the alleged offence raises real risks there will be further offending."

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