‘Would-be dissident republican bomber’ will face no further charges

The inquest took place at Ballymena Courthouse
The inquest took place at Ballymena Courthouse

A Derry man accused of being a would-be dissident republican bomber has been told in court that he wont be facing any terrorist charges after he admitted “encouraging or assisting” a man “believing” he was a cigarette sumggler.

Gary McDaid (37), of Glenowen Park, Derry, who had faced charges of conspiracy and having explosives with intent to endanger life and in suspicious circumstances two years ago, will be sentenced next month.

The man he admitted helping to evade cigarette duty, was his former co-accused, 37-year-old Seamus McLaughlin, of Eastway Gardens in Derry’s Creggan estate. McLaughlin was jailed for 12 years last November for having four, “ready to deploy’’, improvised mortars and an improvised explosive incendiary device with intent to endanger life on March 3, 2013.

McDaid was to have gone on trial in Antrim yesterday on Monday past (February 23, 2015), but by lunch time, Judge Desmond Marrinan adjourned the case, as he had done so last September, before it could even be opened by the proseuction.

Prosecution QC Ciaran Murphy, thanked Judge Marrinan for the “time allowed” while asking permission for an additional 13th count to be added to the original inditiment, which at one stage had jointly been faced by both McDaid and McLaughlin.

That 13th charge accused McDaid of ‘encouraging or assisting an offence believing it would be committed contary to Section 45 of the Serious Crime Act 2007’, the particulars being that ‘on the 3rd day of March 2013 ...... did an act, namely drive a motorcycle believing that Seamus McLaughlin would commit an offence contary to Section 170 of the Customs and Excise Management Act 1979, of being knowingly concerned in carrying cigarettes with intent to evade duty and that this act would assist him to do so”.

Following McDaid’s guilty plea, Mr Murphy asked that the remaining four terrorist charges, conspiracy to cause an explosion with the four improvised mortars, possessing them with intent and under suspicious circumstances and having an article, namely a Citroen Berlingo van, for the purposes of terrorism, “remain on the books and not be proceeded with, without further order of this court”.

Defence QC Martin O’Rourke, who asked the court to direct pre-sentence reports from the probation service, said he hoped to provide further addition reports, ‘which would require time to complete in any event’.

Judge Marrinan, who released McDaid on continuing bail before sentence late next month, told him while he would receive credit for his guilty plea, encouraged him to co-operate with probation, so that he would have a full a picture of him as possible before passing sentence.

No details surrounding McDaid’s role, or beliefs, as to what McLaughlin was doing when they were both arrested on Derry’s Letterkenny Road that day, and the mortars were uncovered in the rear of the Citroen Berlingo van were given, or opened to the court. However, several previous court hearings were told McDaid had been travelling behind the van on a motorcycle.

When McLaughlin was jailed by Belfast Recorder Judge Dasvid McFarland last year, the court heard it was the prosecution case that the improvised mortar system which included four launch tubes, four propelling units and four mortar bombs, were to be used for an attack on security forces, most probably a police station.