An alleged “middle ranking” member of dissident republican organisation Oglaigh na hEireann was refused bail on Monday amid fears that he would reoffend.
Objecting to 48-year-old Mark Gerard Heaney being released on bail, a detective constable told Lisburn Magistrates’ Court that along with three other men, Heaney was covertly recorded interrogating a drug dealer who was threatened with being shot, as well as discussing other topics including:
l activities, strategies and members of OnH;
l accessing guns and training members to use them;
l shooting people and taking action against other drug dealers.
“Police believe that they’re all deeply involved in the activities of OnH and he is a middle ranking member of that organisation, not just a foot soldier,” claimed the officer.
Heaney, from Lagmore Glen in west Belfast, faces charges of IRA membership, conspiring with his co-accused to commit GBH on persons unknown, false imprisonment of ‘person A,’ collecting information likely to be of use to terrorists and three firearms charges including having a gun and silencer with intent on April 10 this year. He also faces a further charge that between January last year and last April, he “authorised the carrying out of an attack on an unknown person to assist the commission of GBH with intent”.
Charged in relation to the same investigation, alleged terrorist leader Kevin O’Neill, 58, from Coolnasilla Park South, faces charges of IRA membership and directing the activities of the proscribed organisation on dates between December 1 2013 and June 25 this year.
The other two, 37-year-old Robert Warnock O’Neill, from Bingnian Drive, and Daniel McClean, 47, from Hannahglen Heights, are also charged with IRA membership on the same dates.
They are also jointly charged with conspiring together and with other persons unknown to inflict grievous bodily harm with intent “on persons unknown” between the same dates along with counts relating to the false imprisonment of ‘person A’ and collecting information “of a kind likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism” on February 6 this year.
O’Neill faces a single count relating to the alleged possession of a firearm with intent to endanger life, all alleged to have occurred on dates between December 1 last year and June 25 this year.
District judge Alan White heard the charges arose on foot of five covert recordings taken at Heaney’s girlfriend’s house between December and May, and particularly one taken on February 6 this year when an alleged drug dealer was “held hostage in the house” and interrogated for 42 minutes.
During that recording, the transcript shows the alleged dealer being “threatened to have his legs smashed or shot with a shotgun”, with reference made to there being a shotgun waiting outside the house.
“This defendant says to ‘give him a slap’ and then there is the sound of a slap being delivered,” claimed a prosecuting lawyer, adding that the hostage “is forced to give names and family details of alleged drug dealers in the Poleglass and Dunmurry areas with reference to him being shot if he doesn’t give correct information or makes a mistake”.
After he is released “the remaining people in the house discuss the names that they have got and what they have done to previous dealers”, claimed the lawyer, with the police officer adding that a month after his interrogation, “that person was later shot”.
The officer said the covert recordings had been given to a voice analysis expert who, comparing them with Heaney’s ‘no comment’ police interviews, had opined there is “strong support” to say that Heaney was present.
Defence lawyer Jon-Paul Shields submitted that apart from the recordings, there was no other direct evidence to support the allegations and that Heaney should be released to continue in his role as his ill mother’s main carer.
He further submitted that Heaney had an acceptable alternative address and that sureties were available.
The judge refused the application as “in my view there’s a serious risk of further offences being committed”, and commenting that “there’s sufficient evidence to connect him to the charges”.