Bail refused in car bomb case

A policewoman woke to discover a man planting explosives under her fellow officer-husband's car in an alleged bid to kill him, the High Court heard today.

Friday, 2nd September 2016, 3:30 pm
Updated Friday, 2nd September 2016, 4:36 pm

The would-be bomber fled after she hammered on the bedroom window at their home in Eglinton, Co Londonderry last year, a judge was told.

Prosecutors claimed they have evidence that 35-year-old Sean McVeigh was the man spotted crouching down at the target’s vehicle.

McVeigh, of Victoria Street in Lurgan, Co Armagh, faces charges of attempted murder and possessing explosives with intent to endanger life.

He was refused bail due to the risk of any further offences being committed.

The court heard police received an emergency call from the home of the serving PSNI officers in the early hours of June 18 last year.

The woman had looked out to see a man working underneath her partner’s car.

“She gave a description of the male and hammered heavily on the bedroom window, waking up her husband and the person at the car fled the scene,” prosecution counsel said.

A viable device was subsequently discovered under the car.

It was claimed that a circumstantial case links McVeigh and two other men to the terrorist attack.

They were arrested by gardai who stopped a Volkswagen Passat later the same night across the border in Co Donegal, but released unconditionally after clothing was taken for forensic examination.

McVeigh was said to have remained in the Irish Republic until detained by the PSNI at Portadown train station in May this year.

Tests revealed a low amount of explosive component on the clothing that had been seized from him, it was alleged.

DNA links were also made with the other suspects and on mats in the Passat, according to the prosecution.

Mr Justice Treacy was also told a top McVeigh was wearing when stopped on the night of the alleged murder bid matched that on the man depicted on CCTV footage crouching down at the officer’s vehicle.

The Crown lawyer said: “There is material that we will suggest points to him being the person actually placing the device.”

Opposing bail, he added: “Whoever carried it out, it was undoubtedly a murderous attempt on (the life of) a member of the security forces.”

Dessie Hutton, defending, responded that the DNA findings backed his claims of a weak prosecution case.

He also argued there was no evidence the Passat had been in the village of Eglinton that night, with police instead forming “suppositions”.

Denying bail, however, Mr Justice Treacy held there was a prima facie case of involvement in attempted murder.

Although recognising McVeigh is not charged with membership of a terrorist organisation, the judge added: “If you are a participant of a group that is not accepting the democratic will of the people of this island, but rejecting that and seeking to murder fellow citizens there must be a risk of re-offending if released on bail.”