Northern Ireland news

Booby trap bomb trial told of high speed Garda chase

Police at the scene of the attempted bomb attack on officers in Eglinton

THE trial of a man accused of planting a booby-trap bomb under the car of an off-duty policeman has heard of a high-speed Garda chase.

Belfast Crown Court has already heard that although Garda detained Sean McVeigh and two others outside Killygordon in Donegal after the device was planted, he was not arrested until nearly a year later.

The 37-year-old from Victoria Street Lurgan, who denies attempting to murder police and possessing the undercar bomb on June 18 2015, was arrested by PSNI officers in May 2016 while on a train.

The device was left under the car of an officer at his home near Eglinton, Co Derry in June 2015.

On Wednesday, the court was told that Garda in Letterkenny were asked for assistance by the PSNI in Derry, concerning two vehicles which failed to stop at a checkpoint and were thought to be en route to Bridgend in Donegal. It was suspected they may have had something to do with the planting of the bomb.

Garda patrols were alerted while members from its armed Regional Support Unit were also tasked to search for the car.

It was a two man patrol from this unit, while driving towards Lifford that spotted one of the suspect vehicles and gave chase.

The car drove through a red light, even swerving on to the wrong side of the road to avoid a car stopped at the lights. However, eventually gardaí managed to block it.

An officer said that after first detaining and handcuffing the rear seat passenger, he then detained and cuffed McVeigh, who was the front seat passenger, while his sergeant arrested the driver. The three men remained silent, he added.

Later in a follow-up search of the chase route, the Garda said that he found a black glove, turned inside out, lying on the ground. He remained with the find until it was photographed and placed in an envelope by a detective.

During cross examination the officers said they were aware of the need to forensically protect the scene, and of the dangers of possible contamination. However, they accepted that they had not been wearing gloves and had not put the men in forensic suits, as they were not available.

They maintained there had been no "long search of the vehicle" and that while they may have looked inside the vehicle, they had not got into it.

The trial continues.

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