‘Approaches’ to mortar accused to ‘turn supergrass’

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Acourt has heard allegations that a Derry man who is currently on remand in connection with the discovery of mortars, has been approached in Maghaberry Prison to turn supergrass.

Gary McDaid, of Glenowen Park in the city, is charged with conspiracy to cause an explosion, possession of explosives with intent to endanger life and possession of articles for use in terrorism.

The charges relate to the discovery of four mortars in a van on the Letterkenny Road on March 3.

A solicitor for McDaid told Derry Magistrate’s Court week that there had been a “serious development” in the case as his client appeared in court last week via videolink.

Ciaran Shields said the 37-year-old had been approached on six occasions in Maghaberry Prison.

Mr Shields told the court that the approach had been made in an attempt to persuade his client to plead guilty to the offences and become an assisting offender.

He said that all these approaches had been done in the absence of a solicitor.

Mr. Shields said they had made representations on the matter to the Prison Service, the Chief Constable, the Secretary of State and the High Court.

Deputy District Judge John Meehan said that one possible remedy to the “alleged approaches” was granting bail to McDaid.

Judge Meehan adjourned the case for one week so that the prosecution could show cause as to why bail should not be granted.

In a letter to Mr. Shields, the Northern Ireland Office confirmed that McDaid had been visited in Maghaberry Prison by the PSNI.

A second man charged in connection with the incident along with McDaid - 35 year old Seamus McLaughlin, of Eastway Gardens, Creggan - has not been approached, according to his solicitor Paddy MacDermott.

Both men will appear in court again via videolink on May 30.