‘Masked men’ cut off electronic tag

Derry's Courthouse on Bishop Street. 3003JM66
Derry's Courthouse on Bishop Street. 3003JM66

A court has heard claims that masked men came into the home of a man on bail for terrorist related offences and cut off his electronic tag.

William Martin McDonnell, of Culdaff Gardens, appeared in court charged with theft of an electronic tag and home monitoring unit worth £1,200.

He is also accused of causing damage to the equipment owned by G4S on December 7.

McDonnell is currently on bail for allegedly smuggling a note into Maghaberry Prison.

Derry Magistrates Court was told that G4S received a notification that the tag had been tampered with on Sunday night. Police arrested McDonnell later on that evening.

It was revealed there was no sign of the electronic tag or monitoring unit in the 28-year-old’s home.

During interview, McDonnell told police that masked me entered his house and removed both his tag and the monitoring unit. He claimed he had phoned G4S to let them know.

However, an investigating officer said the security company had no record of this phone call and there were no ‘obvious signs of forced entry’ to McDonnell’s home.

Defence counsel Steven Mooney told the court his client was released on bail two weeks ago and had complied with the stringent conditions imposed. These include signing at the police station every day and being banned from contacting ‘certain individuals’.

He said if McDonnell was lying it would be a ‘kamikaze suicide mission’ which ‘will not benefit him at all’.

The barrister also told the court the 28-year-old was in contact with his solicitor on Sunday evening.

He said an exchange between them ‘corroborated’ his version of the events and the phone call to G4S.

District Judge Barney McElholm said McDonnell’s version of events ‘could be true’ but it was also possible McDonnell removed the tag himself or was working with the ‘masked men’.

However, the judge told the court he has to give the 28-year-old the benefit of the doubt.

McDonnell was released on the same terms and conditions of bail and will appear in court again later this