Derry republican Kieran McCool appears in court charged with possession of explosives and other alleged 'New IRA' offences

An alleged dissident republican who faces terrorism charges has been denied bail by a court in Belfast amid concerns he will leave the jurisdiction.

Sunday, 21st March 2021, 12:58 pm
Updated Sunday, 21st March 2021, 1:04 pm
Laganside court complex.

Kieran McCool, 52, appeared before Laganside Court on charges linked to the 'New IRA.'

The father-of-four, from the Ballymagowan Gardens area of Derry, was arrested under the Terrorism Act on Thursday.

He was charged on suspicion of a number of terrorist offences on Friday.

These included preparatory acts of terrorism, possession of explosives with intent and possession of articles likely to be of use to terrorists.

The court was told that among the number of items recovered from his home was a pair of black gloves.

PSNI Detective Chief Inspector Hamilton said he believed he could connect the accused to the charges.

The detective opposed bail over concerns he would leave the north, that he would reoffend and concerns over a proposed bail address.

The court heard that McCool’s home was searched in January 2017, when

his car was seized and examined.

A forensic examination of the car found low level traces of the explosive substances PETN (Pentaerythritol tetranitrate).

The court heard that PETN is a highly explosive compound often found in detonator cords or with explosives linked to Semtex.

A search carried out on a property in December 2017 recovered component parts of an improvised explosive device in a cupboard.

This included a number of commercial timers and a partially constructed timer power unit.

Police recovered the pair of black industrial-type gloves in the kitchen in McCool’s home in April 2018.

Forensic examination of the gloves uncovered traces of PETN on the inside and outside of gloves.

The court heard that the DNA profile matched the accused.

Detective Hamilton said that McCool has been the subject of a large number of stop and searches by police officers in Derry and Strabane.

He said that McCool has made comments to police about them being blown up.

He allegedly made comments such as “don’t forget to duck”, “things going bang” and simulating an explosion with his hands.

“This is a constant theme of his engagement with police,” Detective Hamilton added.

“I would describe it as a type of goading.”

He also made comments like “you can get out of prison, but you can’t get out of a body bag”.

A mobile phone was also seized in McCool’s home and included internet browsing searches for “impact grenades” and “14mm grenade”.

The court was told McCool is associated with a number of Derry men who are currently charged with terrorist offences.

The men were charged last August in connection with a meeting of the New IRA executive council.

The court was also told McCool has attended protests associated with the same group, including a protest outside Maghaberry Prison.

Detective Hamilton said the items found at the accused’s home can be correlated to explosive devices.

The court also heard that the defendant did not answer any questions during police interview but made a prepared statement.

He also denied any part in engineering or having any role in making or designing explosives.

The detective told the court that police are concerned over his previous convictions, associations and risk he poses to the public.

Defence barrister Joe Brolly described the evidence as “remarkably flimsy and untenable”.

He said his client does not have a passport and suffers from a serious disability.

Mr Brolly said McCool has a serious spinal injury and needs to have wounds dressed daily and that he has not left the country in 12 years.

Mr Brolly also stated that his client has not absconded from the jurisdiction when charged with previous offences.

He also said that traces of PETN are widely found on surfaces and clothes which is a “well-established scientific fact”.

Mr Brolly said one of the items recovered included an egg timer, which was found in McCool’s kitchen.

Another item included the children’s toy, Lego ninjago container, which was found in August 2020.

“These are items that the prosecution suggests he is involved in bomb making, we say that’s entirely ridiculous,” Mr Brolly added.

The judge described the charges as serious and refused the accused bail over flight risk concerns.

The case was adjourned until April 15.