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Couple accused of making bombs fail in bid to get trial overturned

By Ashleigh McDonald

Published 19/01/2016

Bailed: Orla O’Hanlon
Bailed: Orla O’Hanlon

Attempts to dismiss terrorist charges levelled against a young Co Armagh couple accused of making a bomb in their border bungalow have been unsuccessful, a court has heard.

Legal teams acting on behalf of Keith McConnan and Orla O'Hanlon made applications that their clients had 'no case to answer' on various terrorist charges.

The applications were made to judge Sandra Crawford after the Crown had finished its case during the trial at Belfast Crown Court last month.

It's the Crown case that the young couple were guilty of committing acts for the preparation of manufacturing explosives and making a bomb after an explosive substance, an industrial grinder and other items, including a primed timer power unit, were discovered in their rented bungalow in the border village of Forkhill.

The search was conducted in December 2013 under the Justice and Security Act. The pair have denied all the charges against them.

Following the Crown's case, and before the defence opened their case, a barrister acting on behalf of 21-year-old McConnan, from Tievecom Road in Forkhill, argued that his client had no case to answer on four of the nine charges he faces.

His legal team argued that McConnan, who is originally from Dundalk, had no case to answer on charges linked to the crushed ammonium nitrate based fertiliser than was found at various locations within the bungalow.

An application was also made on behalf of 20-year-old O'Hanlon, from Church Road in Forkhill, on the grounds that following the Crown's case, she had no case to answer on each of 10 offences she was charged with.

Judge Crawford was asked to consider the defence applications, and earlier yesterday gave her ruling. Judge Crawford said that after considering both the defence submissions and the evidence before the court, she was "satisfied that each of the defendants has a case to answer" in respect of all the offences they are being tried on.

Following the ruling, the court was informed that the trial will resume again on Monday, February 1. While O'Hanlon was released on continuing bail, McConnan was remanded back into custody.

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