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Pair accused of plotting to bomb PSNI recruitment event in Derry refused bail, court rules

By Alan Erwin

Published 08/08/2016

The scene of the alert at the Waterfoot Hotel last year
The scene of the alert at the Waterfoot Hotel last year

Two Co Meath men accused of plotting to bomb a PSNI recruitment event must remain in custody, a High Court judge ruled today.

Darren Poleon and Brian Walsh were refused bail amid claims they left the improvised device close to a hotel in Derry last October.

Prosecutors said the explosives, concealed in a fire extinguisher, had the potential to kill.

Poleon, 41, of Drumbaragh in Kells, was allegedly involved in making the device based on a DNA match inside the bomb, Mr Justice Stephens was told.

Walsh, his 34-year-old co-accused from Culmullen in Dunshaughlin, was a highly trusted associated who helped transport the component parts to undergrowth close to the Waterfoot Hotel venue, it was claimed.

Both men are charged with preparing an act of terrorism, conspiracy to cause an explosion, and possessing explosives with intent to endanger life or cause damage to property.

Prosecution counsel said the pair were in a car stopped by police in Omagh three days before the bomb was discovered.

They claimed to be in Northern Ireland to buy an engine, the court heard. Officers found a rucksack, bolt cutters, walkie-talkies, binoculars, a head torch, toy gun, latex gloves, wigs and a fake beard inside the vehicle.

At that stage Poleon and Walsh were arrested on suspicion of going equipped for theft, but later released on bail.

But the prosecution barrister claimed the landscape changed after the bomb was discovered on October 9.

She contended: "The positioning of the IED (Improvised Explosive Device) was a transit location.

"The intention would be to move the device closer to or within the hotel prior to the scheduled PSNI recruitment event due to take place the following day."

Had the bomb detonated, the barrister continued, shrapnel from the casing could have caused death or serious injury.

She claimed it was highly significant that Poleon's DNA was found on a fuse inside the IED.

According to the prosecution the two men made a 140-mile road trip with the explosives.

Examination of the satellite navigation system in the car they were in revealed it travelled from Co Meath to the "destination" at a

roundabout near the Waterfoot Hotel, the court heard.

The sat nav was also said to contain an address for Belfast Metropolitan College - where a similar police meeting was to be held.

Footage recovered from a supermarket in Co Cavan allegedly shows the two accused buying a rucksack on October 6.

Mr Justice Stephens was told a reservation at the hotel for the night before the recruitment event was made using Poleon's name and a phone number allegedly attributed to his wife. No one turned up for the booking.

Andrew Moriarty, for Poleon, stressed there is no fingerprint evidence or CCTV footage of when the bomb was left at the scene.

He also pointed out that the device contained a low-grade firework mix, arguing that it was unlikely to cause the "carnage and loss of life" initially claimed.

Counsel for both men urged the judge to release their clients from custody due to alleged delay in the case.

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

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