Court appearance for men charged over attempted hotel bombing

The Waterfoot Hotel.
The Waterfoot Hotel.

Two men have appeared in court charged in connection with an attempted bomb attack on a Derry hotel.

Darren Poleon, (41) with an address in Kells, Co.Meath, and 34-year-old Brian Walsh, of no fixed abode, are jointly charged with preparation of a terrorist act by placing an improvised explosive device at the Waterfoot Hotel.

They are further charged with possession of explosives with intent to endanger life or cause serious injury to property and conspiracy to cause an explosion on October 6.

Both men refused to acknowledge the court.

Derry Magistrates Court heard allegations that data from a satellite navigation system has been obtained by police.

This indicates that Poleon’s car left Kells. Co.Meath at around 2:30pm on October 6.

Both men are allegedly caught on CCTV later that date buying a grey rucksack in an Aldi store in Co.Cavan.

The data allegedly shows the car travelled towards Derry and parked at a hard shoulder close to the Waterfoot Hotel.

Police suspect the movements of the car after this indicate that someone was dropped off and collected at this point.

The court heard claims that police on patrol in Omagh stopped the vehicle at 11pm the same day.

A search was conducted of the vehicle and it is alleged officers found the grey rucksack, bolt cutters, balaclava’s and fake wigs and beards.

It is further alleged walkie talkie’s were found, along with an ear piece, a pair of Marigold’s, other latex gloves, a new unused sim card and a replica gun.

A head torch and mobile phones without sim cards were also allegedly found.

Poleon and Walsh were arrested on suspicion of going equipped for theft and released on police bail.

During interview, they claimed they were in the area to buy an engine for a BMW but when questioned further the men made no comment.

The court was told that during a search of the Waterfoot Hotel an improvised explosive device was found behind a disabled parking sign.

It was discovered the day before a planned PSNI recruitment event at the hotel.

The device consisted of a fire extinguisher containing low explosives with a Tupperware box attached to it.

This contained an ignition system and a timer power unit.

An investigating officer told the court the device is the ‘same make up of device’ as the one which exploded in the Everglades Hotel in May 2014.

He added that it is also the similar to parcel bombs sent to the chief constable in January and Palace Barracks in August this year.

Poleon and Walsh answered their police bail in Omagh earlier this week and were arrested in relation to the explosive charges.

During this police interview, they made no comment.

The officer from serious crime told the court police are strongly opposed to bail.

He said police believe the defendants are likely to commit further offences.

The officer added ‘these individuals were not working alone and police need to identify these other people’.

He also told the court police fear the men will not surrender to bail if released.

Defence solicitors for the Poleon and Walsh said their clients have addresses in Kells, in a close knit community.

They added that the Garda station is less than three miles away from their homes and a cash surety was available.

District Judge Barney McElholm refused bail for fear of further offences.

He said in his opinion there is a ‘strong circumstantial case made out against both accused’ and there is a ‘strong fear of further offences’.

The judge added that ‘there is a strong public interest in preventing this sort of activity’.

Poleon and Walsh were remanded in custody to appear in court again via videolink on December 31.