Belfast Telegraph

'Massive amount of bomb-making liquid mercury' on arrested Lurgan biker

By Alan Erwin

Liquid mercury allegedly seized from a motorcyclist could potentially have been used in a number of booby trap bombs, the High Court has heard.

Prosecutors claimed a "massive quantity" of the chemical element was found in a rucksack Gabriel Mackle was wearing when stopped in Lurgan, Co Armagh.

Police also recovered 20 rounds of .22 calibre ammunition during the search, a judge was told.

Mackle (40), of Glebe Hill Manor, Tandragee, faces charges of having ammunition in suspicious circumstances and possession of articles for use in terrorism.

During a bail hearing it was set out that the father-of-four was riding a BMW motorbike stopped by police at Victoria Street in the town on August 7.

He was arrested after the materials were found, the court heard.

A prosecution barrister claimed forensic tests have now confirmed 67ml of liquid mercury, weighing up to 900g, was recovered.

He said that a similar substance has been used in the past to make tilt switches for improvised explosives and booby-trap devices.

"Police say there is the potential for numerous of these devices to be facilitated as a result of this material," the barrister contended.

"It's described by police as a massive quantity of mercury to be possessing."

Opposing bail, he claimed there was a risk Mackle could flee or commit offences.

"Police say there is a current dissident republican threat and that this applicant is linked to dissident republicans and such activity," he added.

Defence lawyers argued that Mackle should be released due to delays in the case.

They also stressed that a forensic report on the liquid mercury had not yet been provided to them.

Issues about their client's health following a serious motorbike accident were also raised.

The judge was told that Mackle's brother was prepared to lodge the deeds to his farm in a surety to allay any fears he may flee.

Adjourning the bail application, Mr Justice Burgess said he wanted to listen to tapes of a previous hearing before reaching his decision.

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