Forkhill couple on trial over bomb-making charges

Orla O'Hanlon is charged along with Keith McCannon
Orla O'Hanlon is charged along with Keith McCannon

A young couple accused of a host of terrorist offences, including making and possessing explosives in their south Armagh home, have gone on trial in Belfast.

Keith McCannon, 21, and 20-year-old Orla O’Hanlon were arrested in December 2013 after their Forkhill home was searched by police officers acting under the Justice and Security Act.

The couple are facing charges linked to the discovery in their rented bungalow of an industrial grinder, a “complete” timer power unit (TPU) and a quantity of crushed ammonium nitrate fertiliser – which the Crown says has been “encountered in improvised explosive substances” in Northern Ireland in the past.

McCannon, from Tievecom Road in Forkhill and O’Hanlon, from Church Road in the village, both deny the charges levelled against them. They appeared in the dock of Belfast Crown Court for their Diplock non-jury trial.

Outlining the case against the couple, prosecuting counsel Terence Mooney QC said that the evidence in the trial will “undoubtedly point to the fact” that the industrial grinder was used in the bungalow to grind the ammonium nitrate fertiliser.

The presence of the grinder, the prosecutor said, was “supported by the discovery” of a ready-to-use TPU found on the shelf of a wardrobe in the couple’s bedroom. The TPU consisted of an improvised mobile phone-operated switch unit and portable power supply.

Mr Mooney said that the combination of the items and explosives found in the premises indicated that the occupants of the house – McCannon and O’Hanlon – were “committing acts ... for the preparation of manufacturing explosives and making a bomb”.

At hearing.