Court order amid concerns over seizure of woman’s car

Independant candidate Gary Donnelly voting in Derry yesterday. (0605PG64)
Independant candidate Gary Donnelly voting in Derry yesterday. (0605PG64)

A Derry woman has spoken of her frustration at the PSNI’s failure to return the car it seized almost three months ago for forensic tests in the wake of the Crawford Square bombing.

Sandra Carlin said the vehicle and her mobile phone were taken by police after she was stopped and arrested on Strabane Old Road as part of the follow-up operation into the fire bombing of the Public Prosecution Service office, which occurred in April.

Her solicitors have said they are now preparing an application to the Magistrate’s Court requesting the return of the Citroen Picasso.

Ms Carlin said she was taken to Antrim Crime Suite following her arrest on the morning of May 1 but released unconditionally the same day after one interview.

The Gobnascale resident said she has been previously subjected to “ongoing hassle” by “MI5 agents” and believes this, her arrest and the car seizure could be linked to her partner being from a prominent republican background.

She said: “My own health isn’t great and I need the car to get to doctors’ appointments. I also have a granny who’s aged 93. I stay with her in the Bogside some nights. We all take turns to take her to whatever appointments she needs. With me living in the Waterside, getting over to stay with her and coming back, I need the car.”

She said that, in the past, MI5 agents turned up on her doorstep trying to engage her in conversation but later left after she deliberately caused a scene to raise the alarm.

Ms Carlin also said that neighbours had reported people, believed to be MI5 agents, sitting in a car outside her Waterside house at night.

“It got to the stage where I wouldn’t stay in my own house,” she said.

Ms Carlin’s solicitor, Ruari Muldoon from MacDermott, McGurk and Partners, confirmed that they are now looking at applying for a court order.

Mr Muldoon said: “I was told I would have a decision the first week of July as to whether it would be kept any longer. I haven’t heard back from police and we will be making an application to the court to order the return of the vehicle this week.”

Independent Derry City & Strabane District Councillor Gary Donnelly said he believed the episode had “MI5 written all over it”.

He claimed: “It’s an extension of their campaign to put pressure on Sandra, to put hardship on her financially and economically.”

A police spokesman said: “We are still awaiting the results of a forensic test.”