Belfast Telegraph

Suspect packages 'were not franked'

Liquid found in a package sent to the republican organisation Cairde Na Heireann contained a potentially explosive organic peroxide, a court has heard.

The package, which was addressed to the organisation at 260 Gallowgate, Glasgow, also contained a number of nails, a wire and a watch component.

Trevor Muirhead, 43, and Neil McKenzie, 42, are accused of conspiring to murder Celtic manager Neil Lennon, former MSP Trish Godman and lawyer Paul McBride QC, as well as various people in the premises of Cairde Na Heireann, by sending improvised explosive devices to them.

Giving evidence at their trial at the High Court in Glasgow, postman Ross McDonald told how the brown "Jiffy"-style packet sent to Cairde Na Heireann failed to be delivered twice on March 28 and 29 last year, as the office's shutters were down. It was then sent to the Royal Mail's National Returns Centre in Belfast.

David McCavana, 41, head of the returns centre, said he spoke a little Gaelic and explained that Cairde Na Heireann meant "Friends of Ireland".

He said the package was X-rayed twice on April 12. It showed a quantity of nails, a "light sensitive diode", a bottle and a wire. He said he was unsure if there was a power supply in the package.

The liquid, which was held in a small plastic bottle similar to that of a "hand sanitiser", was tested under his supervision on a computerised machine called a "hazmat", but he said it did not test positive for any "hazardous" substances.

Mr McCavana said he thought it was something resembling a "hoax device".

The court heard that the hazmat machine did not test for explosives, only for materials which might be hazardous to health.

Muirhead, from Kilwinning, Ayrshire, and McKenzie, from Saltcoats, Ayrshire, deny all the charges against them. The trial, before Lord Turnbull, continues.

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