Man jailed for 14 years over car bomb

 

The son of a murdered Sinn Féin member, caught transporting a massive 200lb car bomb last November has been jailed for 14 years.

Conor Casey (31) was told by Belfast Crown Court Judge Kevin Finnegan QC that but for his guilty plea, he would have been facing over 20 years in jail.

Judge Finnegan also said it had been hoped, given the Peace Process that the courts would no longer have to deal with young men like Casey who but for other circumstances would never be before the courts.

Casey's father Tommy aged 57, a Sinn Féin member, was shot dead by a Loyalist death squad as he went to check on a neighbours house in October 1990.

A year after the shooting Casey, then aged 20 and his two brothers and sisters, took sanctuary in Holy Trinity Church, Cookstown, claiming death threats had been made against them by the security forces.

When Casey was caught with the massive car bomb police chiefs claimed they had prevented death and destruction on the same scale as the Omagh atrocity.

Defence lawyer Philip Magee revealed Casey was caught as part of an "intensive intelligence" operation and claimed that his mission "would not and could not have succeeded".

Mr Magee said that by Casey's guilty plea at the first opportunity he had saved the authorities considerable time and expense in having a trial.

Earlier prosecuting lawyer Ms Donna McColgan said that Casey, dressed in a boiler suit with body armour underneath and also wearing surgical gloves had to be dragged from his white Vauxhall Astra car after being stopped at a police check point at the Knappagh Road near Killylea in County Armagh just after midnight on November 20 last year.

The court also heard that when searched police uncovered a two-way radio on Casey who refused to identify himself at the scene. Later during police interviews he refused to answer any question or to say anything about the massive bomb which was primed and ready for use.

In the front of the car, which had been bought a few days earlier, police uncovered the trigger mechanism while the potentially devastating device was found in the boot.

Ms McColgan said Army bomb experts estimated that the device, which contained a booster charge was made up of 220lb of home made explosives.