Page last updated at 14:25 GMT, Friday, 7 May 2010 15:25 UK

Bail refused in 'dissident' case

high court Belfast

A pipe bomb found after two men were stopped in Armagh was for use in a dissident republican attack, possibly against police, a court has heard.

Niall Ward, 23, denies possessing explosives with intent to endanger life or cause serious injury and possession in suspicious circumstances.

Mr Ward, of Dalton Close, Armagh, was applying for bail after being detained with another man by police 11 March.

The judge refused bail basing his decision on the risk of re-offending.

Crown lawyer Kate McKay said a note found during searches of a suspect's home contained a police vehicle registration number and a time.

The court also heard that a co-accused tried to run away before stopping and throwing a white plastic bag into a garden.

It contained an 18-inch long pipe bomb with a short fuse, the court heard.

This man was later found to be wearing a clear latex glove and had a Zippo lighter on him.

'Forensic precautions'

Mr Ward allegedly stated, "I'm sorry, I'm sorry," when he was pulled to the ground, Mrs McKay said.

She claimed he was dressed in two T-shirts and hoodies so as to take forensic precautions.

During his detention at Antrim serious crime centre, a pre-prepared statement was submitted in which he claimed to have been walking to his brother's house when he met the co-accused just before police arrived.

The court was told the piece of paper with police registration details was discovered in the other man's house.

Mrs McKay said: "Detectives believe this device was for use in an imminent terrorist attack, possibly against the police, by dissident republicans.

"In the area in question there have been 52 terrorist incidents linked to dissident republicans in the last 13 months."

Opposing Mr Ward's application for bail, the barrister claimed he had attended an IRA commemoration event at Carrickmore, Co Tyrone in April 2009.

The court was told he was also at an event at Stormont last July to protest on behalf of Lurgan republican Colin Duffy, who has been charged over the murders of two soldiers at Antrim barracks.

Mrs McKay said Mr Ward was being held in the republican wing while on remand at Maghabbery Prison.

But Martin O'Rourke, defending, said his client had gone there for safety reasons due to a perceived threat from loyalist paramilitaries.

He also contended that any attendance at the Colin Duffy rally should not be held against Mr Ward as the Human Rights Commissioner Monica McWilliams had taken an interest in Mr Duffy's case, as part of her broader concerns about the state's use of detention powers.

Mr O'Rourke claimed the prosecution would have problems proving a weak case against Ward, who denies possession or knowledge of the pipe bomb.

"It's clear no physical possession is being alleged against the applicant," he said.

Refusing the bail request, Lord Justice Girvan based his decision on the risk of re-offending.

However, the judge also emphasised that this was not to imply any guilt against Mr Ward at this stage.

Correction 11 May 2010: Earlier versions of this story suggested that Human Rights Commissioner Monica McWilliams had attended a protest concerning Colin Duffy, a detail supplied by a news agency. The Commission has pointed out that this was not the case and that the defence barrister did not make such a claim.



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