Brother of Colin Duffy ‘led plot to kill prison governor’

Craigavon Courthouse
Craigavon Courthouse

An alleged ringleader in a dissident republican plot to kill a prison governor, his officers and a police officer was granted bail yesterday.

District Judge Mervyn Bates told 48-year-old Paul John Duffy that before being released on his own bail of £5,000, he must first find an address which the police approve of.

Duffy, a brother of leading republican Colin Duffy, was barred from certain areas of Lurgan and Craigavon where police allege attacks were planned, ordered to surrender his passport, report to police four times a week and observe a curfew between 11pm and 6am.

The Craigavon Magistrates’ Court judge had earlier heard a prosecution barrister allege that Duffy, from Ailsbury Gardens in Lurgan, was “actively involved” in a conspiracy to kill members of the security forces, a prison governor and to cause an explosion.

Along with his brother Damien Duffy, 42, and their cousin Shane Duffy, 41, the trio face charges relating to preparing acts of terrorism, conspiring to murder and conspiring with each other to cause an explosion.

It is also alleged that the three collected information “with the intention of committing acts of terrorism” and collected information likely to be of use to terrorists with all the offences alleged to have occurred on dates between June 7, 2011 and May 14, 2012.

Paul Duffy faces a further charge that on dates between November 29, 2009 and May 14 last year, he directed the activities of a terrorist grouping, namely a dissident republican grouping.

However, if committed for trial at the Crown Court, that charge is likely to be dropped, a lawyer told the court.

Yesterday the court heard that in a joint covert operation between the police and security forces, they gathered evidence that the three were planning to cause an explosion and had “actively targeted” a police officer, two prison officers and a prison governor.

The lawyer outlined how two Ford cars were involved in what she described as “recce” operations where on numerous occasions, and with Paul Duffy driving every time, the cars did “drive bys” at houses belonging to members of the security forces with one such “recce” lasting almost nine hours.

She claimed that the surveillance operation, coupled with covert audio recordings, was able to pin point where the respective cars were when certain comments were made.

The lawyer said the police were “strongly objecting” to bail amid fears that Duffy would reoffend or flee the jurisdiction.

Defence QC Mark Mulholland argued that with no realistic prospect of the case coming to trial this year, along with the presumption of innocence, Duffy will have spent an inordinate period in custody with a Crown case based on “innuendo, assumption and speculation”.

He submitted that Damien Duffy had been released on High Court bail last month and that there were “no material differences” between the pair.

Granting bail, Judge Bates said the “groundwork had been laid” by the High Court in Damien Duffy’s case and as he could find no “demonstrable differences” in the cases, he was granting bail to Paul Duffy.