Mortar bombs suspect granted compassionate bail after assurance by former footballer

Seamus McLaughlin
Seamus McLaughlin

A Londonderry dissident republican suspect accused of having “ready to deploy’’ mortars was due to attend a funeral in the city today after yesterday being granted compassionate bail.

Bail was granted under strict conditions to Seamus McLaughlin after former Northern Ireland international and Derry City footballer Tony O’Doherty put up £5,000 of “his own personal money’’as surety.

The 66-year-old businessmen agreed to chaperone the defendant to his 32-year-old cousin’s funeral today at the Holy Family Catholic Church, Ballymagroarty in the city.

McLaughlin, 35, of Eastway Gardens, in the Creggan estate, was arrested on March 3 last year following a surveillance operation, Belfast Crown Court heard.

A prosecuting lawyer said McLaughlin was the driver of a white Citroen Berlingo van which police believe was driving in convoy with a motorcycle which was driven by a co-accused.

The two dissident republican terror suspects are jointly charged with possession of explosives with intent to endanger life and conspiracy to cause explosions.

Judge McFarland said he was prepared to grant McLaughlin compassionate bail.

The judge said the accused had to sign bail at Strand Road PSNI station between 12pm and 1pm today and then be taken back to Maghaberry prison “forthwith’’ by Mr O’Doherty.

McLaughlin is to be arraigned at Belfast Crown Court on Monday on the explosives charges.