Court told of recon against police and prison officers
A MORTAR-BOMB attack was being planned on a security force vehicle in Co Armagh, the High Court heard yesterday.
Prosecutors said reconnaissance was used against police and prison staff, including a governer, over a two-year period. Suspects drove past one target’s home more than 50 times in eight days, a judge was told. Details emerged as one of three men accused of a plot to bomb and killwas refused bal. Damien Duffy (43), of Campbell Walk in Lurgan, Co Armagh, is charged with conspiracy to murder, conspiring to cause an explosion and collecting iformation likely to be used to terrorists. He was arrested in May last year after a nine-month police iinvestigation involving surveillance, tracking and covert recordings. The alleged offences, stretching back to November 2009, relate to police and prison officers ‘ movements in the Lurgan and Craigavon areas, their addresses and routes taken to and from work. A prosecution barrister said audio recordings showed the Kilmore Road and Cottage Road junction in Lurgan was to be used for a mortar-bomb attack on security forces. The location is on a route regularly used by police and prison staff, the court heard. Alleged discussions between the suspects including references to lines of sight, getting angles right and breaking cover. The barrister said attack planning was carried out on two identified prison officers as they came and went to Maghaberry Prison in Co Antrim.
Lord Justice Coghlin was told that the governor’s home in a rural setting was passed several times for no apparent legitimate reason. The barrister said two of the accused scouted one officer’s home on 54 occasions – including 21 times in a 90-minute period. According to police, anti surveillance techniques and U-turns were performed. Discussions about the areas for carrying out an attack, escape routes and “giving it 20 seconds to get down there” were recorded, the court heard. It was accepted that forensic analysis of the audio recordings was unable to attribute any of the remarks to Duffy. However, the court was told independent witnesses said he had been in the car used during the alleged offences. Mark Mulholland QC, defending, said Duffy should be released due to the “paucity” of evidence and delays in processing the case. “The starting point is what can be aattributed to this accused and at no time is there any express reference to targeting, weaponry or anything of that nature,” he said. “What appears to be a case grounded principally on what can be inferred or speculated was at hand does not pass muster. “In the period of time the accused was under surveillance, whatever was being suggested by the prosecution absolutely nothing happened.” Lord Justice Coghlin said an explanation would eventually have to be given. Separating terrorist offences from other crimes, he said: “It’s nothing whatever to do with the political beliefs of those charged. “It’s to do with a very small group of people who are not prepared to take part in a democracy but wish to achieve what they beleive to be some firm of political end by killing and injuring people. “In cases of terrorism the offence is driven by a warped political ideology. Therefore there is a significantly higher risk of further offences.”
With many thanks to : The Irish News.
- Mortar bomb attack ‘planned to target security force vehicle in Co Armagh’ (belfasttelegraph.co.uk)
- Mortar ‘had helicopter target’ (standard.co.uk)