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Conal Corbett (20) linked to Ardoyne bomb targeted at police walks free

By Ashleigh McDonald

Published 16/08/2016

Hearing: Conal Corbett
Hearing: Conal Corbett

A Belfast man linked to the discovery of a bomb which was planted in Ardoyne in a bid to kill police has walked free from court after receiving a suspended sentence.

Conal Corbett - who has already spent seven months on remand for the four terrorist-related offences - was handed an 18-month sentence, which was suspended for two years, after he appeared at Belfast Crown Court.

Passing sentence on Corbett on his 20th birthday, Judge Gordon Kerr QC said that whilst he accepted he was linked to the incident via the purchase of top-up cards for mobile phones used in the bomb plot, there was nothing to suggest Corbett was involved in either the preparation or the placing of the device.

Telling the court the remote-controlled bomb failed to detonate, Judge Kerr said it had the potential to cause "fatal injury to police officers".

Judge Kerr said that he was also taking in to account the fact that Corbett, from Oisin House in the Victoria Parade area of the city, was just 18 when he committed the offences.

Just after midnight on May 1, 2015, Father Gary Donegan from Holy Cross received a telephone call warning that a device had been left behind at Sean Graham's bookmakers at Brompton Park, but a search did not find anything. The following morning, another local priest was contacted and also informed that a device had been left.

The area was searched again and a remote-controlled device which had been disguised to look like part of a hoarding was located and removed. The prosecutor told the court that a group calling itself the New IRA later claimed responsibility.

When efforts were made to try and trace the phone used to call Father Donegan, it emerged that the caller used an O2 'pay as you go' mobile.

The investigation also revealed that other mobile phones were connected to the bomb plot, and when this was probed by police it emerged that a top-up card used for one of the handsets had been bought in the Eurospar in Ardoyne.

CCTV footage from the store was seized and examined, which led to police searching Corbett's flat. Corbett was arrested on May 7 at his then address, at Flax Street.

Two items linked to terrorism were located during the search. One was a folded piece of paper which was hidden in a doorbell box and which related to component parts of a rifle and ammunition and instructions on how to assemble an AK47.

Also seized was Corbett's laptop and, when it was examined, investigators found an AK47 instruction and safety manual.

Corbett was interviewed on 12 separate occasions, and during each interview he made no reply to any question asked.

He subsequently pleaded guilty to four offences: two counts of possessing items for terrorist-related offences, namely the mobile phone and two top-up vouchers; collecting or making records of information for terrorism, and also possessing documents useful for terrorism.

The Judge warned Corbett to "steer clear of criminal behaviour" or risk being sent to prison.

Belfast Telegraph

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