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Two in court charged in connection with arson attacks at police officers' homes

Two men have appeared in court charged in connection with a series of arson attacks at the homes of police officers.

Both men were remanded in custody after their legal teams decided not to apply for bail at Lisburn Magistrates' Court.

James Kidd, 41, of Castleview in Gilford, was charged with a number of offences including arson, the supply of Class A, Class B and Class C drugs, conspiracy to cause an explosion and encouraging an offence to be committed.

He nodded when asked if he understood the charges against him.

Co-accused Hugh Boyce, 26, of Curran Road, Larne was charged separately.

He faced charges of arson, conspiracy to commit arson, supply of Class A, Class B and Class C drugs, conspiracy to cause an explosion and assisting an offence.

When asked if he understood the charges he replied: "Aye."

As he stood in the dock he was told by District Judge Rosemary Watters to stop chewing bubble gum.

He replied: "It's nicotine gum actually."

Ms Watters said: "Well just get rid of it. These are serious charges and you're standing chewing."

A total of seven people have now been charged as part of the police investigation into drugs and arson attacks on officers' homes in the Banbridge, Portadown and Gilford areas between April and July last year.

On Wednesday four men and a woman appeared at Craigavon Magistrates' Court on charges linked to what police said was an investigation into a drugs and arson "joint enterprise" allegedly associated with a criminal gang and targeting police officers.

A judge was told that when police began making inroads against Craigavon-based criminals, the homes and vehicles of serving officers were targeted for arson, endangering life.

The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) members' vehicles and homes were attacked and in some cases destroyed, the court heard.

The case against all seven accused is due to be mentioned on March 10.

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