Three men in Derry court after missile found in car

 

A police officer told a court in Derry yesterday that a missile described as an “explosively formed projectile” found in a car in the Creggan area of the city was “a viable device which contained 200 grams of Semtex explosive”.

The PSNI detective constable made the disclosure when three local men appeared at the city’s Magistrate’s Court charged with offences linked to the discovery.

The defendants are Jason Ceulmans (42), a butcher from Lecky Road, Damien Harkin, (47), from Westland Avenue and Neil Hegarty (also 47), from Sackville Street. They are jointly charged with possessing the explosive device with intent to endanger life or cause serious damage to property.

They are further charged with conspiring with others to murder unknown persons and with possessing a walkie talkie communications device for use in an act of terrorism.

Police officers

Dozens of relatives and friends of the co-defendants crowded into the Bishop Street courthouse for the hearing.

More than a dozen police officers were also inside the courtroom.

The police witness told District Judge Alan White that she believed she could connect the co-defendants to the charges. She said they were arrested after a car they were travelling in was stopped by police at Westway in the Creggan Estate shortly after 8.30pm on Thursday last.

She said the explosive was found in a holdall in the footwell of the rear passenger seat. The device was subsequently examined by a British army technical officer.

“The device, which is made of metal, is capable of causing extensive damage and loss of life”, she said.

The police witness said she believed “the activity” was carried out “by the new IRA” and that none of the defendants had given accounts of their movements nor had they denied the charges.

The officer said her opposition to the defendants being released on bail “is based on police intelligence information”.

When solicitors for the defendants submitted that the information should disclosed to the defence, the judge adjourned their bail applications until Thursday for a video link hearing.

After the co-defendants were remanded in continuing custody until Thursday, their relatives and supporters clapped and cheered when they were taken into custody.

Meanwhile, a fourth man arrested in the same police operation was subsequently released without charge.