An alleged dissident republican bomb maker from Dundalk has been refused bail after a judge deemed he appeared to be “more actively involved in this enterprise” than first believed.
The comments were made by District Judge Eamonn King after he heard that the police investigation into 19-year-old Keith McConnan had revealed further evidence allegedly linking him to the manufacture of a “fully fledged” bomb.
A Detective Constable had earlier told Newry Magistrates’ Court that a fingerprint allegedly belonging to McConnan was found on a bag containing a “fully constructed” timer power unit (TPU), that there was evidence indicating that he used a pseudonym to buy both the unit and other component parts.
The officer also said a search of McConnan’s home in Dundalk uncovered a large quantity of sugar-based material and that terrorist organisations regularly used material such as glucose in conjunction with ground down fertiliser to make improvised explosive devices.
McConnan, who is originally from Dundalk but now has an address at Tievecrom Road in Forkhill, faces three charges of possessing explosive substances namely a timer power unit and ground down ammonium nitrate with intent to endanger life and making an explosive substance with intent to endanger life on a date between 15 to 18 December last year.
His girlfriend, Orla O’Hanlon, 18 and of the same address, faces the same charges after police raided their home just before Christmas last year when they found the timer power unit, an industrial grinder with associated ground down fertiliser and a large amount of latex gloves.
Objecting to McConnan being released on bail, the officer described how the TPU was ready to be deployed and that it could be detonated remotely by a mobile phone, adding that since the initial search, it had been confirmed the white powder found in the grinder, the kitchen and in a vacuum cleaner was ground down ammonium nitrate fertiliser.
He also claimed that forensic examinations of the plastic bag containing the TPU uncovered a finger print attributable to McConnan and that when his main address in Dundalk was searched, police found a quantity of sugar-based material regularly used in homemade bombs.
The officer further claimed that the police had evidence that McConnan had used a fake name to buy the sugar-based material, the TPU and a quantity of wire adding that taking everything together, “we have a fully-fledged homemade explosive device”.
Under cross examination from defence lawyer Kelly Doherty, the officer agreed that McConnan had a clear record and that his girlfriend O’Hannon had been granted High Court bail but he claimed that she would not have been released if the High Court had heard the same information.
He further agreed there was no forensic DNA evidence linking McConnan to any of the materials but told the lawyer that was no surprise “given the extensive amount of latex gloves found”.
The officer said police were objecting to bail on the grounds that McConnan would reoffend and given that he potentially faced a lengthy jail term, had an address in the Republic and had access to significant funds, he may flee the jurisdiction.
Refusing the bail application and remanding McConnan into custody to appear again on 25 May, Judge King commented that the “first impression” he had when the couple first appeared before him was that “these two individuals were used by more sinister people”.
The judge added, however, that given the police claims on Wednesday “it would tend to indicate that this particular defendant was more actively involved in this enterprise”.
Source: UTV News