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Man allegedly linked to a dissident republican bid to detonate bomb at special needs school granted bail

By Alan Erwin

Published 17/08/2015

The accused was released on bail.
The accused was released on bail.

A man allegedly linked to a dissident republican bid to detonate a bomb at a special needs school has been granted High Court bail.

James Seamus McGuigan, 45, is accused of having a mobile phone used in repeated attempts to set off the explosion in Lurgan, Co Armagh back in October 2013.

Bombers claiming to be from the Real IRA tried three times in vain to remotely detonate the device at Sloan Street before calling in a warning, prosecutors said.

McGuigan, of North Street in Lurgan, faces charges of possessing a mobile phone and SIM card for terrorist purposes and preparation of a terrorist act.

He was arrested in March this year as part of an investigation into phones used in the terror plot.

The device was to be triggered by making a call to a mobile wired to the explosives, a judge was told today.

Opposing bail, prosecution counsel said: "There were apparent unsuccessful detonations, the phone was called three times sequentially for three minutes in a row."

It was nearly two hours later that Craigavon Area Hospital was contacted to issue a bomb warning.

Homes and businesses in the area had to be evacuated before the device was found the next day.

McGuigan is allegedly connected through the so-called "dirty phone" used to try to trigger the bomb.

It was claimed that a SIM card for that device was briefly put in his own mobile handset eight days before the attempted bombing.

Two months after the incident McGuigan's fingerprints were found in the phone box used to call the hospital, the prosecutor further contended.

She argued: "Police can tie the applicant to having the very SIM card (through) which the detonation would have been made in his own handset."

But attacking the strength of the case against his client, defence barrister Mark Mulholland QC claimed there was "a paucity of evidence".

He told the court McGuigan's fingerprints were not found when the phone box was examined immediately after the bomb attempt.

Mr Mulholland also stressed the eight-day gap in the dates between his client allegedly having the SIM card in his phone for a short period and the bid to activate the device.

"There's an element of vagueness in relation to what the applicant's purported role was," he added.

Granting bail, Lord Justice Girvan noted there was no evidence of McGuigan being allegedly involved in any further offending after the bomb incident.

He ordered the accused to provide sureties of £4,500, banned him from having a mobile phone and imposed a curfew and electronic monitoring.

McGuigan must also surrender any passports, remain in Northern Ireland and report to police three times a week.

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