Belfast Telegraph

Explosives accused is denied bail after police raise fears

By Ashleigh McDonald

A man arrested over the discovery of explosives in a tower block was refused bail yesterday.

Michael Thomas Lagan, from Cuchulainn House in the New Lodge area of north Belfast, appeared at the city's magistrates' court charged with possessing an improvised explosive device and component parts with intent to endanger life on July 14.

A defence solicitor maintained his client was innocent and had "no knowledge" of the explosives, no interest in "divisive politics" and was not sectarian. He added he was previously a community worker in east Belfast.

Lagan (28) was arrested with his 29-year old girlfriend after the discovery of the bomb parts in his flat last Thursday.

After the couple were taken for questioning at Musgrave Street police station, the woman was released, pending a report to the Director of Public Prosecutions, but Lagan was charged.

A police constable told yesterday's court hearing he believed he could connect Lagan to the charge. The policeman also revealed that the PSNI was objecting to bail because of a number of reasons, including a concern that the defendant would commit further offences.

When District Judge Fiona Bagnall asked the officer if he believed that Lagan was part of any organisation, he replied: "At the minute, we are investigating that line of enquiry."

The policeman additionally warned that the PSNI believed Lagan would abscond if he were to be released because he had "multiple identities".

Addressing the police's concerns, the defendant's solicitor said his client was "born a Lagan" but changed his name by deed poll three years ago out of respect to his grandmother, who helped raise him.

He also said the police's fear that Lagan could abscond "should not weigh heavily" because his client had "significant ties to this jurisdiction".

The lawyer argued that despite the explosives having been found in his client's property, Lagan had "no knowledge" of the materials.

The solicitor also highlighted that his client had "nothing political" on his record, that he used to work in the community in East Belfast and that he "maintains links with both sides of the community".

Refusing bail, District Judge Fiona Bagnall said the defendant should at this stage be remanded in custody. She did, however, remind Lagan of his High Court bail rights and said she would look at the matter again.

The case will be before the same court on August 15.

Belfast Telegraph


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