Man facing terrorism charges after device found at PSNI officer’s home
Court told accused is bomb-maker ‘on behalf of New IRA’ and involved in series of incidents
The court was told that the explosive devices related to the bomb attack in Dungiven, a device found in the Skeoge Road in July 2016 and a mortar device in Strabane in September 2019. Photograph: Paul McErlane/EPA
A Derry man has been remanded in custody charged in connection with the explosive device found at the home of a PSNI officer outside Dungiven last month.
Kieran McCool (52) of Ballymagowan Gardens in Derry, faced a total of five charges including three charges of possessing improvised explosive devices on various dates between December 31st, 2015 and April 20th, 2021.
He was also charged with preparatory acts of terrorism between the same dates and possessing a mobile phone for use in an act of terrorism on dates between September 17th, 2017 and January 22nd, 2019.
The court was told that the explosive devices related to the bomb attack in Dungiven, a device found in the Skeoge Road in July 2016 and a mortar device in Strabane in September 2019.
A detective chief inspector told the court they believed Mr McCool was a “bomb maker on behalf of the new IRA” and had been involved in a series of incidents going back to 2015 and right up to the attack in Dungiven.
He said the evidence against Mr McCool was multi-faceted’ and included DNA evidence and what he described as “a bomb maker’s signature”.
The officer said there was “trace explosive evidence” on a jacket found in Mr McCool’s house on March 18th.
He added there was also electronic evidence relating to internet searches on how to build explosive devices.
Defence solicitor Ruairi Muldoon asked the officer was the case in relation to Dungiven based on the fact that police believed they could link the defendant to material found in the Skeoge Road and there were similarities to the device in Dungiven. The officer said it was.
Mr Muldoon said that the case appeared to be that a number of fire extinguishers were found on the Skeoge Road that police believe Mr McCool could be connected to, and a fire extinguisher was found in the Dungiven attack.
The officer said that the bomb-maker’s signature showed similar adaptations to timing devices and power units.
The solicitor asked about the internet searches, saying they were on the likes of YouTube and other such sites and had taken place in 2017 and 2018, and was told this was correct.
Mr Muldoon said his client had been charged in March and released on bail on similar charges and, due to his ill-health, “had not left the house”.
Mr McCool did not speak during the hearing but was using a stick and did not sit down as the solicitor said it was more comfortable for him to stand.
The judge said these were serious charges but there was still a presumption of innocence.
However, he added that could be overturned if there was a fear of further offences and in this case he agreed there was that after what he described as “the well-documented attempt on the life of a police officer in Dungiven”.
He remanded Mr McCool on custody to appear at Derry Magistrate’s Court on June 10th.