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Dissident car bomb suspect is granted bail

By Alan Erwin

Published 23/12/2015

Accused: Gavin Coyle
Accused: Gavin Coyle

A convicted dissident republican accused of attempting to blow up a Catholic policeman has been granted High Court bail.

Serving prisoner Gavin Coyle is facing new allegations of trying to kill the off-duty officer in a car bomb attack near Castlederg, Co Tyrone in May 2008.

With the 38-year-old due to complete a jail term imposed for other terror offences next April, his lawyers claimed the fresh charges have been brought in a desperate attempt to frustrate his pre-release paroles.

Granting Coyle's application to get out under that programme in time for Christmas, a judge acknowledged defence contentions that the evidence against him is weak.

The accused, formerly of Culmore Park in Omagh, was arrested inside Maghaberry Prison earlier this month.

He faces charges of attempted murder, causing an explosion likely to endanger life, and membership of the IRA.

The officer suffered serious leg injuries and was dragged from the wreckage of his car shortly before it burst into flames after a bomb exploded under the vehicle at Spamount, near Castlederg.

Coyle was arrested and interviewed about the attack twice in 2008.

At that stage it was decided evidence against him was insufficient to charge him, but the prosecution claimed that a covert recording of a meeting allegedly involving Coyle, taped in 2010, has now sufficiently strengthened the case.

He is currently serving a 10-year sentence for other terror-related offences.

A prosecution lawyer argued: "Given his self-confessed affiliation with certain groupings there's a well-founded concern of re-offending."

Neil Fox, defending, argued the case against his client was "flimsy" as all of the evidence against Coyle was available in 2008 - apart from a recording two years later said to have little relevance.

Mr Fox said: "It all creates the suspicion that this is just a desperate attempt to frustrate the release of this applicant on parole and ultimately his release in April."

Granting bail, Mr Justice Horner banned the defendant from entering Castlederg.

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