Derry RAAD accused refused High Court bail

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An alleged prominent member of the Derry paramilitary grouping Republican Action Against Drugs must remain in custody, a High Court judge ruled today.

Mr Justice McCloskey refused bail to Liam Martin McDonnell after being told blank-firing revolvers and four replica AK47 rifles were seized during searches of his home in Derry.

One of the weapons recovered on July 12 was adapted to fire ball-bearings consistent with RAAD’s method of punishment shootings, prosecutors said.

McDonnell, 26, of Rinmore Drive in the city, is charged with possessing a firearm with intent and possession of articles for use in terrorism.

Also recovered during the search were camouflage jackets, balaclavas, an army-style uniform, mobile phones, a 2-way radio and a criminal investigation file, the court was told.

The accused handed himself in to police last week, providing a prepared statement to say all the items found in the house belonged to him.

He claimed to be a collector of clothing associated with outdoor activities and to have frequently loaned or given them away at Hallowe’en or to others around the estate.

McDonnell said he collected replica guns as a hobby, stressing that he never used them for illegal purposes.

He also denied involvement with any illegal organisations, the court heard.

But opposing his bail application, a prosecution barrister said: “Police believe he’s an active and prominent member of Republican Action Against Drugs.”

She set out how, between September 2008 and May 2012, the organisation has been involved in 73 incidents in the city, Strabane and Co Donegal.

These include 30 shootings and one murder.

“Police believe because of his involvement with these people there is a fear of further offences,” the barrister said.

“RAAD use intimidation methods to assault and control members of the community.

“It’s commonly reported that parents produce their children to these people in order to be shot.”

A defence lawyer stressed the allegations against McDonnell were “hotly disputed”.

He pointed out that his client was not charged with membership of any outlawed grouping and had surrendered to custody.

However, Mr Justice McCloskey focused on the alleged link between McDonnell and RAAD.

He described the activities of those involved with the organisation as “horrifying and frankly shocking”.

The judge said: “Those who work in and for, and who associate themselves with the self-styled RAAD trade in certain commodities.

“Those are the commodities of naked intimidation, terror, threats, brutal assaults and conduct of this kind.”

Refusing bail, he held that the link between McDonnell and RAAD was, for now, sustained.

He added: “The court would not be acting in the real world if it were to form any other view at this stage.”