Special Court remands five Derry men in custody on firearms charges


FIVE MEN from Derry were remanded in custody on firearms and other charges last night at a late night sitting of the Special Criminal Court in Dublin.

The five men appeared amid tight security at the court shortly after 9 p.m., after being brought under escort from Co Donegal, where they had been arrested at 1.30 a.m. on Sunday.

The five were Mr Hugh Wilkinson (44), from Dunmore Gardens; Mr Paul Murray (24), from College Glen; Mr Bernard O'Hagan (35), from Hatmore Park; Mr Patrick Kavanagh (33), from Chamberlain Street, and Mr Patrick Gerard McCartney (45), from Glenowen Park, all in Derry.

They each faced seven charges, including possession of two assault rifles with intent to endanger life at Ballygorman, Malin, on Sunday at 1.30 am.

The five were also accused of possession of 100 rounds of ammunition, with intent to endanger life and having an improvised grenade launcher and an explosive substance with intent to endanger life.

Det Garda John Noel Jones of Buncrana Station gave evidence of arresting Mr Wilkinson and Mr Murray at Ballygorman at 1.30 a.m. on Sunday under the Offences Against the State Act.

He told the court that when arresting Mr Murray, he had called out "armed gardai". Det Garda James Breslin, also of Buncrana, told of arresting the other three men at the same time and location.

He told the court he had arrested Mr O'Hagan inside a shed. The five men did not speak during the hearing, which lasted an hour and 20 minutes.

The court agreed to an application from the solicitor for the State, Ms Mary Cummins, for all five to be remanded in custody to Portlaoise Prison until November 14th.

Later the court heard an application for short term bail by Mr Patrick Gageby SC, on behalf of Mr McCartney, a joiner and father of four.

Mr Gagehy told the court the application arose because his father in law in Derry, Mr Patrick Maguire, to whom he was close, had died on Sunday afternoon.

He told the court his client wished to attend the funeral at Saint Mary's Church on the Creggan today. His cousin, Mr Gregory McCartney, a Northern Ireland solicitor, had in court £10,000 and pledged to return him to the jurisdiction within 24 hours.

However, the application was opposed by Supt Kevin Lennon on the grounds that the accused had been caught "red handed", the weight of evidence against him and because he believed that if the application succeeded he would not stand trial.

After considering the application, the court ruled against it and Judge Dominic Lynch said the court had taken into account the evidence of Supt Lennon.

He said: "The court is not disposed to grant bail despite the circumstances."