Belfast Telegraph

Man facing police murder plot charges ‘was secretly recorded’

By Alan Erwin

An alleged senior dissident republican charged with trying to murder PSNI officers must remain in custody, a High Court judge has ruled.

Henry Fitzsimons' bail application was refused after prosecutors revealed details of a covertly recorded meeting they claim he held with two associates after the gun attack on a police convoy in north Belfast.

The trio allegedly discussed acquiring weapons capable of firing at jeeps or armoured cars and how shoulder-launched devices would be "perfect" for an attack.

Only security force targets with "a high percentage chance of getting a kill" were to be sought out in future, it was claimed.

Fitzsimons faces a range of terrorist offences over last December's shooting incident. He is charged with attempting to murder PSNI officers who came under attack on the city's Crumlin Road.

The 46-year-old, of no fixed address, is further alleged to have conspired with co-accused Colin Duffy and Alex McCrory to murder police. Other charges against him include membership of 'the IRA' and aiding and abetting possession of a firearm with intent.

A police Land Rover and two other PSNI vehicles came under fire as they headed to Twaddell Avenue. Two AK-47 rifles and spent ammunition were later recovered along with a hijacked and burnt-out taxi used for the getaway.

Prosecution counsel said: "I'm told one of the bullets went through the headrest of a vehicle."

Fitzsimons was later arrested along with Duffy (46), from Forest Glade in Lurgan, Co Armagh, and McCrory (53) of Sliabh Dubh View in Belfast.

Their detention followed the secret recording of an alleged meeting the three men held in the grounds of a large country house near Duffy's home a day after the gun attack. The prosecution claim they were taped for more than an hour holding a "leadership command discussion regarding the IRA, its activities and future direction".

Talks involved the Crumlin Road attack, the loss of the AK-47s, burning out the getaway car and whether the gunmen would be recognised, the court heard.

"The nature of the conversation he had with the others shows real, in-depth knowledge of the operations of the IRA," the prosecutor said. "Police would believe he holds a senior position therein because of that."

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