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'New IRA' bomb stored in attic after failed attempt to kill police, court hears

By Alan Erwin

Published 23/11/2016

Bail was denied following the hearing.
Bail was denied following the hearing.

A bomb discovered in an attic had been stored there following a failed bid to kill police in Co Armagh, the High Court heard.

Prosecutors claimed a grouping styling itself the New IRA unsuccessfully deployed the improvised explosive device (IED) in the Craigavon area in August.

It was also alleged that a camera used to film wildlife was secreted at the home of a retired police officer and another strategic location as part of terrorist information gathering.

Details were disclosed on Wednesday as bail was refused to one of four men accused of involvement in the plot.

Ciaran Magee, 24, from Lake Street in Lurgan, Co Armagh, is charged with preparation of terrorist acts, namely targeting a former member of the security forces.

He was arrested after the IED was seized during raids in the town in September.

Opposing his release, a Crown lawyer said the investigation relates to the alleged possession and deployment of an improvised explosive device in Craigavon by a dissident republican group known as the New Irish Republican Army.

He claimed the faction's intention was to kill PSNI officers.

A surveillance operation was launched after police received information on August 7 that four men were involved in terror-related activity, the court heard.

It allegedly showed Magee's association with his three co-accused on dates up to his detention on September 21.

Inquiries led to the recovery of an IED being stored in the roof space of an unoccupied property at Woodville Avenue in Lurgan.

The device had been returned there following its unsuccessful deployment against police at a private residential area in Tullygally, Craigavon on August 31, according to the prosecution.

Magee and his co-accused allegedly placed the camera on the Annaghone Road in Stewartstown sometime between September 4-8.

Mr Justice Stephens was told the route is regularly used by both on and off-duty police officers.

Around a week later the recording equipment was taken to the home of a retired officer in Magheralin.

"Police are in no doubt the camera was being used to target the ex-officer," prosecution counsel said.

It was retrieved by suspected members of the gang on September 20, the court heard.

Following his detention Magee remained silent during five days of interviews.

He provided a statement claiming to have been at home with his father, girlfriend and flatmate on the day the camera was retrieved.

His barrister attacked the strength of the case against him, describing it as weak and circumstantial.

No fingerprints or forensic evidence links Magee to the camera, the court heard.

It was also stressed that nothing was put to him about any alleged involvement with the IED.

But denying bail, Mr Justice Stephens cited the risk of any potential further offences.

He sad: "The context of this case is what I consider a prima facie case against the applicant that he was involved in a determined attempt with others who were dedicated towards terrorist activities."

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