Belfast Telegraph

Dad-of-four accused of dissident blast

A father-of-four has appeared in court charged with carrying out the 200lb car bomb explosion on Londonderry’s PSNI headquarters in Strand Road.

Heavily armed police officers were present both inside and outside the Bishop Street courthouse when Philip O'Donnell (41) arrived yesterday in a police Land Rover from the Antrim Serious Crime Suite to face 12 charges.

O’Donnell, from Baldrick Crescent in the Rosemount area of Derry, is charged with causing an explosion likely to endanger life or of causing serious injury to |property.

He is also charged with possessing explosives with intent, possessing a firearm or imitation firearm, hijacking a taxi and falsely imprisoning a taxi driver and membership of a proscribed organisation, namely Oglaigh na hEireann, also on August 3.

In addition, the defendant is charged with attempting to hijack two taxis, attempting to cause two explosions and possessing a firearm or imitation firearms. He is alleged to have committed the offences on August 1 and 2.

Chief Inspector Ian Magee of the PSNI's major investigation team formally connected the defendant to the 12 charges. The police witness said he was opposed to bail being granted because of the serious nature of the charges and because he believed the defendant would flee the jurisdiction as, if convicted, he faces a lengthy jail sentence.

Chief Insp Magee also told District Judge Barney McElholm that he believed the defendant, who has a conviction for hijacking and possessing an offensive weapon dating back to 1988, would interfere with witnesses who have yet to be interviewed by detectives.

Cross-examined by defence solicitor Paddy MacDermott, the police officer said the evidence against the defendant was “forensic and other evidence”.

Applying for bail, Mr MacDermott said his client, who was arrested at his home last week, “has health issues and only walks with difficulty. His health issues require constant care”. The lawyer said the defendant faced a lengthy period on remand until the forensic and technical investigations by the police were finalised.

Refusing bail, the District Judge described the offences as “very serious charges which are related to a very serious incident recently”. He remanded O’Donnell in custody to appear in court again for a video link hearing on September 2.

The judge said the defendant had the right to apply to the High Court for bail.

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