Man in court over bomb components discovery

Judge's court wig and hammer or gavel
Judge's court wig and hammer or gavel

A Newry man who admitted possessing a plastic bag containing viable components for three pipe bombs in suspicious circumstances was remanded in custody yesterday.

The plastic bag was unearthed on waste ground in the Camlough Road area of Newry close to the A1 on February 13, 2014.

Andrew Magee, 20, from Parkhead Crescent in the south Down town, admitted possessing “certain explosive substances, namely three pipe bombs, two lengths of copper pipe and 25 ball bearing” in suspicious circumstances.

A barrister for Magee told Belfast Crown Court his client was essentially a “patsy” who came to be in possession of the items whilst under the influence of another man who was 13 years his senior.

Outlining the crown case against Magee, prosecuting barrister Michael Chambers said the bag was discovered on waste ground close to Magee’s house in February 2014.

The bag was located by police assisted by the military and had been hidden under tufts of grass.

The bag contained a number of pipe bombs and suspected pipe bomb component parts, and when all the items were later examined, they were determined to be three viable pipe bomb devices.

A forensic examination revealed Magee’s fingerprint was present on the plastic bag.

Magee was arrested and, during his first interview, he gave a pre-prepared statement which claimed he knew nothing about the pipe bombs.

When the forensic evidence about his fingerprint was put to him, Magee then claimed he had been walking his dog on the waste ground, his dog had found the items in the grass, and he lifted the bag up.

Magee also claimed he was placed under a form of duress.

Mr Chambers said Magee accepted that he knew there were pipe bombs in the bag, but that he was not aware of the precise readiness of the devices. Defence barrister Greg Berry QC said it was clear that Magee was “the subject of pressure”, adding: “He essentially hid these items at the direction of other more sinister individuals.”

Judge Gordon Kerr QC remanded Magee into custody and said he would sentence him next week.