Belfast Telegraph

Prosecutors consider 'unduly lenient' appeal over bomb case sentencing

Prosecutors are considering appealing the sentencing of two men for planting a dissident republican bomb before a police recruitment event because it may be unduly lenient.

Darren Poleon, 43, from Drumbaragh, Kells, and Brian Walsh, 35, from Culmullen, Dunshaughlin, both in Co Meath in the Republic of Ireland, were given determinate custodial sentences of 10 years, half to be served in prison and half in the community under licence.

They left the device in hotel grounds ahead of the gathering of would-be new officers in Londonderry on October 9 2015, the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) said.

A Public Prosecution Service (PPS) statement said: "The PPS is considering if there is a basis to refer the sentences handed down in this case to the Court of Appeal on the grounds that they may be unduly lenient."

Unionist politicians have claimed the punishment was too light.

The men pleaded guilty to possession of explosives with intent to endanger life and possession of articles for use in terrorism.

They will be released from custody after five years to spend a further five in the community under licence, the PSNI said.

Police said the device was placed in the Waterfoot Hotel car park on the Tuesday evening but was not found until the Friday of that week.

It was made from a fire extinguisher filled with 1.5 kilogrammes of explosives, and was found along with a detonating system.

The culprits were sentenced at Belfast's Laganside courts complex on Thursday.

Ciaran Shiels, solicitor for Poleon and Walsh, said uninformed public statements had been made by unionists and the Police Federation for Northern Ireland.

"The public should understand that the case was put forward by the PPS as an attempt by dissident republicans to disrupt the planned PSNI recruitment event at the Waterfoot hotel, not any attempt at mass murder.

"Specifically, the court found that neither defendant poses a risk of serious harm to the public.

"Further, that the device itself was a small one made from low explosive firework composition and that both defendants had honoured the terms of their release to return to this jurisdiction to be questioned and charged in respect of the incident."

He said police had not complained about the sentences.

"The sentences handed down by the court falls squarely within the correct range of sentences for incidents of this type within the law.

"Any referral by the PPS to the Court of Appeal on foot of hysterical comments by the Police Federation or local politicians will be vigorously defended."

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