Northern Ireland news

Nine face terror trial after MI5 bugging operation in Newry

The nine defendants appeared at Belfast Crown Court today 

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Nine men are to stand trial in Belfast next year on terrorist-related offences arising from an M15 secret bugging operation.

All nine defendants appeared at Belfast Crown Court today, where they each denied charges dating back to 2014.

The terrorist charges - including membership of an proscribed organisation and conspiracy to possess firearms - are linked to a series of meetings held at a house in the Ardcarn Park area of Newry, which were recorded on listening devices hidden in the property.

A previous court hearing was told the recordings picked up suspected dissident republicans plotting to target police and members of the judicary over a period between August and November, 2014.

After each of the nine accused entered 'not guilty' pleas to all charges levelled against them, Mr Justice Colton was informed by a senior prosecutor that the trial is expected to last up to eight weeks, and a trial date of February 4, 2019 was set.

The Judge then told the nine defendants they were being released on continuing bail. They are:

  • Patrick Joseph Blair (62) from Lassara Heights in Warrenpoint. He has been charged with, and denies, 15 offences ranging from providing instruction or training in the making of an improvised explosive device to others, and membership of a proscribed organisation namely the IRA, to conspiracy to possessing explosives.
  • Seamus Morgan (62) from Barcroft Park in Newry, who faces a single charge of IRA membership between August and November, 2014
  • Colin Patrick Winters (47) from Ardcarn Park in Newry. Amongst the nine charges he faces is providing a property for the purposes of terrorism, received instruction or training in the making or use of explosives for terrorism, and conspiracy to possess explosives.
  • Joseph Matthew Lynch (77) from Hazel View in Belfast, who has been charged with 12 offences. These include IRA membership, engaging in the preparation of terrorist acts by attending a meeting at Ardcarn Park, and conspiring to possess firearms and ammunition.
  • Liam Hannaway (48) from White Rise in Dunmurry, who is being tried on 13 offences, including providing instruction or training in the making of an improvised explosive device to others, collecting information likely to be of use to terrorists, and conspiring to possess explosives with intent
  • John Sheeny (33) from Erskine Street in Newry, who has been charges with six offences. These include receiving training in the making or use of explosives for terrorism, IRA membership, and attending a place used for terrorist training.
  • Joseph Pearce (48) from Clogharevan Park in Bessbrook, is facing two counts of collecting information likely to be of use to terrorists
  • Kevin John Paul Heaney (44) of Blackstaff Mews in Belfast, who has been charged with belonging to the IRA between May 2013 and November 2014
  • Terence Marks (57) from Parkhead Crescent in Newry, who faces two counts, namely IRA membership between August and November 2014, and receiving terrorist training in October 2014.

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