Dissidents ‘tried four times to detonate bomb at school’

Police and the bomb squad
Police and the bomb squad

Dissident republican terrorists tried four times to remotely detonate a no-warning bomb beside a special needs school, a court has heard.

The claim came at Craigavon Magistrates’ Court where 44-year-old James Seamus McGuigan, fron North Street in Lurgan, was charged with possessing a mobile phone and sim cards for a terrorist purpose and preparing a terrorist act on October 9 2013.

The charges arose after a viable explosive device was uncovered in Sloan Street in Lurgan in October 2013.

A PSNI officer told the court he believed he could connect McGuigan to the charges and, describing him as a “dissident republican,” outlined how a mobile phone was strapped to the bomb so that it could be detonated remotely.

He claimed that police investigations indicated that terrorists had tried to detonate the bomb, placed beside a special needs school, four times before calling Craigavon Area Hospital to issue a bomb warning, claiming to be from the Real IRA.

That call resulted in the school, another nearby primary school and several homes being evacuated.

The officer added that when the device was examined by ATO, it was described as a “viable explosive device”.

He claimed McGuigan could be linked to the incident as a sim card used in the efforts to detonate the bomb originated from him, and that his fingerprints were also found in the phone box in the Seagoe industrial estate which had been used to call the hospital.

He said police were “strongly objecting” to McGuigan being released on bail amid fears that he would reoffend or abscond, and that he was a “risk to the public”.

Defence solicitor Peter Corrigan submitted that despite the officer’s description of McGuigan as being a dissident republican, he was not charged with membership, had “strong ties” to the area so was unlikely to abscond, and argued that extensive and stringent bail conditions could be put in place to assuage police fears.

He also submitted that at the time, McGuigan had owned 18-20 mobile phones so couldn’t remember which one he had been regularly using.

Refusing the bail application on the grounds of the risk of further offences being committed, the deputy district judge remanded McGuigan into custody to appear again on April 17 via video link.