Republican suspects are refused bail by judge

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Two suspected dissident republicans charged in connection with a mortar bomb find were refused bail yesterday after a judge said they posed a serious risk to society.

Gary McDaid, 37, from Glenowen Park, and Seamus McLaughlin, 35, from Eastway Gardens, both in Londonderry, appeared at the city’s Magistrates’ Court charged with three offences relating to the discovery of four primed mortars on Sunday night.

The pair were both charged with conspiring to cause an explosion, possession of explosives, namely four mortars and a pipe bomb likely to endanger life.

They were also charged with possessing an item likely to be of use to terrorists – a Citroen Berlingo van.

District Judge Barney McElholm said: “There is no doubt that McLaughlin was driving the vehicle with the mortars in it. It is clear that his purpose was nefarious insofar as he had gloves on and forensic covers over his shoes. High-vis trousers under his jeans is a particularly striking feature.

“That ties in the second individual – that and the helmet and police observations.

“There is a very, very strong circumstantial case that both were involved in something extremely serious.

“The fear of further offences is a very real one. People who are committed to these sorts of mindless, pointless terrorism, which is going to achieve absolutely nothing, are hell-bent on pursuing that activity.”

The four mortar bombs contained a substantial quantity of explosives, were placed inside launch tubes and secured to a frame ready for imminent deployment. A blast incendiary device was attached to a petrol container, which police believe would have been used to destroy any incriminating forensic evidence within the vehicle once the mortars were fired.

A hole was cut in the roof but was partially covered, two timer devices were placed inside a plastic lunchbox and there were two toggle switches marked A and B.

There were also timer power units and batteries.