Belfast Telegraph

Ex-DUP candidate linked to 'bomb hoax phone box'

The fingerprint of a former DUP election candidate accused of explosives offences was allegedly found on the handset of a phone box used to make a previous hoax bomb warning, the High Court has heard.

John Smyth Jr is facing charges connected to the discovery of a pipe bomb on the windowsill of a Polish family's home in Antrim on October 12.

A loyalist terror group calling itself the Real UFF later claimed responsibility for the device.

Smyth (30), of Seacash Walk in the town, is charged with making explosives with intent to endanger life and making explosives under suspicious circumstances.

He was refused bail after a judge was told boxes of fireworks, bangers and copper piping allegedly similar to that used in the pipe bomb were found during searches of his flat.

Smyth unsuccessfully stood as a DUP candidate in this year's council elections and has since been suspended from the party pending the outcome of the case.

He denies any involvement with the device left at the Seacash Drive property, maintaining he was at his parents' home throughout the night of the incident.

Piping was at his home due to the installation of a new heating system and shower, according to his account.

He claimed the fireworks were bought at a market and used for his son's birthday, the court heard.

Opposing his application for bail, a prosecution barrister said DNA analysis was ongoing while a computer seized from the accused has still to be examined.

The attack on the Polish family was claimed by the Real UFF, who declared it part of a "fight back" in the area.

The court was told there have been 28 incidents of pipe bombings, hoaxes, threats and shootings in Antrim since January 2008.

Smyth has not been charged with anything other than making the explosives found on October 12.

But the court was told about a hoax bomb call earlier this year linked to a public phone box.

A fingerprint found on its handset was Smyth's, the prosecution alleged.

The court also heard that the accused was himself the victim of a pipe bombing in March when a device exploded on his bedroom pillow.

Another objection to bail was based on fears for Smyth's own safety.

The court was told: "Members of the public are particularly concerned about the nature of this attack [on the Polish family] and there may be a suggestion of retaliation."

Smyth had accounted for the fingerprint by saying he took his children to a play park beside the phone box and used it when his mobile was out of credit, his lawyer said.

James Johnston, defending, argued there were innocent explanations for all the items found in his flat. He also contended that Smyth would have been charged with further offences if there was any evidence of association with Real UFF figures.

Mr Johnston also disclosed that his client has been treated for two attempted suicides and detailed how a pipe bomb was thrown into his own home.

"To suggest this man goes from being a victim of these attacks by an organisation to, in effect, making similar items for that organisation to use in the community does not stand up to scrutiny," he said.

But refusing bail, Mr Justice Hart held that there was a prima facie case against Smyth.

The judge said that the inferences were strengthened by the alleged presence of the accused's fingerprint in the phone box.

Belfast Telegraph

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