Louth man who was making bomb in shed jailed for 8½ years

Fully loaded device would have weighed 500lb, trial of Philip McKevitt (62) told

 

A Louth man who was making a bomb in his shed was sentenced by the Special Criminal Court on Monday to 8½ years in prison.

Fully loaded, a detective previously told the court, the bomb would have weighed 500lb.

Philip McKevitt (62) of Aghaboys, Mount Pleasant, Dundalk, was convicted last December by the three-judge, non-jury court of the possession of explosive substances at Aghaboys, Mount Pleasant on May 22nd, 2010.

At the beginning of the trial, McKevitt’s co-accused had pleaded guilty to the same offence.

Conan Murphy (29), son of a man found civilly liable for the Omagh bombing in 1998, was jailed for six years.

Investigation into the men began in May 2010, when gardaí received information about IRA activity in Louth, and a surveillance operation was put in place outside McKevitt’s house in Aghaboys.

The house was observed for four days, during which McKevitt was seen with Murphy in the yard and a garda heard an angle-grinder being used in the shed.

On May 22nd, at 7pm, gardaí entered the shed. McKevitt was seen coming from the direction of a trailer.

Inside the trailer were two adapted gas cylinders, which had been deliberately altered, with sections cut from the top of both, and were strapped to a wooden frame in the trailer.

In the boot of a car beside the shed there were 52 500g bags of glucose.

Also seized by gardaí was a roll of wire, 377 metres long and recently spraypainted green for camouflage.

According to the investigating detectives, this was the command wire, normally used for detonating an explosive device from a distance.

A match for McKevitt’s DNA was found on the handle of one of the gas cylinders.

However, during interviews with gardaí, McKevitt said he did not know the trailer and gas cylinders were in his shed and that he had never seen them before.

This was the second time McKevitt had been tried for and convicted of the offence. The first trial took place at the Special Criminal Court in 2011 and McKevitt was convicted in February 2012. However, a ruling by the Court of Criminal Appeal overturned the verdict and directed a retrial.

Presiding judge Ms Justice Isobel Kennedy said on Monday that mitigating factors in the case were McKevitt was working under the command of others and that he had had some difficulties with alcohol at the relevant time.

The sentence was backdated to March 22nd last year.