Suspected dissident to stand trial on terror charge

Pacemaker Press 22/5/2013  Laganside Court Building  in Belfast City centre  Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker

Pacemaker Press 22/5/2013 Laganside Court Building in Belfast City centre Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker

A suspected dissident republican is to stand trial accused of collecting information on members of the Northern Ireland judiciary and PSNI officers

Connor Hughes (24), formerly of Altan Close in Dunmurry, west Belfast, appeared at Belfast Crown Court on Friday charged with collecting information likely to be of use to terrorists.

At his arraignment hearing, he pleaded not guilty to a single charge that on October 2, 2015, he had in his possession “a document or record containing information of a kind likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism, namely a handwritten list containing the names and work locations of eight judges and 16 PSNI officers”.

It is alleged the document was recovered from his cell at Maghaberry jail following a search by prison officers.

Barrister Jonny Brown for Hughes told Mr Justice Treacy that an expert had been retained by the defence “to rebutt and challenge a prosecution expert witness’’ who had analysed the document.

He added that the defence expert is planning to examine the “four page document’’ at the Northern Ireland Forensic Science Laboratory within the next few weeks.

The barrister said the prosecution and defence hoped to “agree a lot of witnesses in the case’’ which would help to shorten the length of the trial.

At the request of prosecuting barrister Ian Tannahil, Mr Justice Treacy granted a certificate for the trial to be heard by a non-jury Diplock court.

The trial date was set for September 6 this year and is expected to last at least two days.

As Hughes was led away in handcuffs, he waved to family relatives sitting in the public gallery.