Co Down bomb suspect must remain in custody

Sean Ruddy waves to family members outside Lisburn Court
Sean Ruddy waves to family members outside Lisburn Court

A man accused of having a viable pipe bomb must remain in custody, Northern Ireland’s top judge ruled yesterday.

Sean Ruddy was arrested along with a second suspect close to where the device and other suspected component parts were found on the outskirts of west Belfast.

Even though prosecutors confirmed the 39-year-old is not forensically linked to any of the material, Lord Chief Justice Sir Declan Morgan refused bail because of the risks involved.

He told the court: “Such devices have been used within this jurisdiction by terrorists to both attempt to injure and, on occasion, to successfully injure.”

Ruddy, of Burren Meadows in Newcastle, Co Down, is charged with possessing explosives in suspicious circumstances.

He was detained in the White Rise area of Dunmurry, south-west Belfast, after police spoke to a co-accused in a Nissan Qashqai car on January 31.

It was claimed that Ruddy was asked to stop, but seemed startled and ran, throwing a black bin bag over a hedge where it made a metallic clanking sound.

Following his arrest Ruddy allegedly told police there was a pipe bomb in the car, the High Court heard.

Although a search of the vehicle proved negative, a viable device was found around seven feet from it.

Inside the bag allegedly discarded by Ruddy officers found four pipes of various lengths.

During the bail application defence lawyers argued that he has no links to dissident republicans.

A prosecution barrister confirmed that a detective in the case told a previous court Ruddy was not interviewed or charged in connection with any dissident terrorist offences.

There is also no available information of any link to such activity, the court heard.

Defence counsel contended it was significant that Ruddy has not been forensically linked to the pipe bomb or parts.

“His instructions are clear: I am not involved in paramilitary activity or dissident activity and there’s no evidence that what he’s saying isn’t true,” the lawyer added.

But refusing bail Sir Declan added: “The device, I have been told, was viable.

“Viable means that it was capable of being deployed at relatively short notice”.