Teen couple accused of making explosives for dissidents


A teenage couple were allegedly involved in making explosives for dissident republicans at their south Armagh home, the High Court heard yesterday.

Prosecutors claimed an industrial-scale bread grinder discovered in the bungalow had been used to process large quantities of ammonium nitrate sugar for bombs.

A timer power unit found in an upstairs wardrobe could also have been planted and left for days and then activated by mobile phone, a judge was told.

Details emerged as 18-year-old Orla O’Hanlon mounted an application for bail.

Along with her 19-year-old partner Keith McConnan, she is charged with making and possessing explosives with intent to endanger life or property.

The couple were arrested following police searches of their home on Tievcrom Road, Forkhill last month.

A 3ft-tall grinder found inside had no domestic use, according to the prosecution.

Tests carried out on white power discovered in and around the appliance confirmed it to be ammonium nitrate, similar to that used in home-made explosives.

Prosecution counsel said: “Police believe a large quantity of ammonium nitrate sugar has already been procured. That wasn’t found on the premises.”

In a bedroom wardrobe police found a bag containing a portable power pack and a timer power unit with a mobile phone and battery taped to it.

Opposing bail based on the risk flight and interference with witnesses, the prosecution said: “Police believe this activity is linked to dissident republicans.”

O’Hanlon and McConnan had only moved into the bungalow together weeks before the raid, the court heard.

Defence counsel Taylor Campbell argued that anyone involved in a terrorist cell would not have used their own home.

He also pointed out that O’Hanlon’s mother or father called at the property every other day.

“The notion that this house was ever going to be turned into something ongoing for the type of deadly activity the police suspect is just out of the question,” Mr Campbell said.

Mr Justice Burgess was told fingerprint tests have yet to be completed. Directing that results should be obtained within four weeks, he adjourned the bail application until then.