‘Should be no further approaches’ by police

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A judge has said there should be “no further approaches” made by police to persuade a man charged with the discovery of mortars to become a supergrass.

District Judge Barney McElholm made the comment as 37-year-old Gary McDaid made an application for bail at the local magistrate’s court.

McDaid, of Glenowen Park, is charged with possession of explosives with intent to endanger life on March 3. He is further charged with conspiracy to cause an explosion and possession of a Citroen Berlingo van for use in terrorism. The charges relate to the discovery of four mortars and a pipe bomb type device on the Letterkenny Road.

A defence barrister told Derry Magistrate’s Court yesterday they have written to the Secretary of State and the Prison Service on behalf of their client, who claims he has been approached by police to become an assisting offender. They asked for an “undertaking to prevent any further approaches being made” to McDaid but have received a formal letter in reply refusing to give any undertaking.

He revealed the 37-year-old has also been granted leave for a judicial review of the authorities’ refusal to move him to the republican wing of the prison.

Prison authorities have refused to move McDaid because he would be at risk from other prisoners. However he states he would be welcome in Roe House.

Applying for bail, the barrister said “substantial sureties” were available, including the deeds to a house owned by McDaid’s mother in Donegal and the equity of the family home.

A prosecution barrister said he had been instructed to inform the court “police do not anticipate having to speak to the defendant any further”.

However, he added that police were still objecting to McDaid being released on bail and said the court should not accept the sureties. He said that if there was any breach of bail the consequences would be “putting his family members out onto the street” and that could open up other court proceedings.

McDaid’s mother Anne was called to give evidence during the bail application and said she was aware of the consequences of any breach of bail.

However, she told the court: “I am sure my son will come whenever he is asked to come”. Mrs McDaid claimed that her son has found prison an “unpleasant experience” and he has not had any fresh air in the last four months.

She said her son was “fading away in front of my eyes” and she worries that he couldn’t endure another four months in custody as he has been placed on suicide watch.

The defence barrister told the court that “allowing McDaid to remain in custody has the potential to have an impact on the right to a fair trial” because of the approaches by police. He said that if the defendant was granted bail “that risk would be brought definitively to an end”.

Refusing bail, District Judge Barney McElholm said McDaid indicating he would be welcome in the republican wing of Maghaberry “reinforces my view there is a real risk of further offences”.

McDaid was remanded in custody to appear again on June 20.