Sean McVeigh to stand trial for undercar bomb

Sean McVeigh

A CO Armagh man is to stand trial next year accused of trying to kill an off-duty police officer with an under car bomb.

Sean McVeigh has appeared at Belfast Crown Court to be formally arraigned on two charges connected to the murder bid in Eglinton, Co Derry on June 18, 2015.

The 36-year-old, of Victoria Street, Lurgan, pleaded not guilty to the attempted murder of the police officer at his home and possession of under vehicle improvised explosive device (UVIED) with intent to endanger life.

Defence barrister Dessie Hutton told the court he intended to retain the services of two experts, one in New Zeland who specialises in DNA testing and one in England.

He said the expert from England would be examining vehicle recognition material held by the Crown in relation to the Eglinton area.

Mr Hutton told Belfast Recorder Judge David McFarland that he envisaged this expert may have to travel from England to Northern Ireland for a "site inspection'' of Eglinton.

The court heard that the non-jury Diplock trial is expected to last up to four weeks given the large number of witnesses to be called.

The defence barrister said that there was no application for bail on Friday but added "that should not be seen as an indication of defeat on the issue'' between now and the trial.

The judge set the trial date for January 15, 2018 and the case will be reviewed at the end of November.

At the time police blamed dissident republicans for the murder attempt on the officer's life.

A senior Derry police commander said wife of the PSNI officer disturbed a man trying to place the under UVIED bomb his vehicle which was parked in the driveway of the family home in Eglinton.

He revealed that she "banged on the bedroom window'' as the man was putting the device underneath the driver's side of the car.

McVeigh was arrested in Portadown by detectives from the PSNI's Serious Crime Branch in May 2016.

At his first court appearance, his defence claimed there was no forensic or CCTV evidence linking him to the bomb bid in Eglinton.

Within hours of the murder bid, McVeigh was one of three men detained by Gardai along the Donegal/Derry border near Ballybofey.

They were held under the Republic's Offences Against the State Act and taken to Letterkenny and Milford Garda stations for questioning.

All three were later released pending a report to the Republic's Director of Public Prosecutions.

During a bail hearing in November 2016, prosecutors told the court that McVeigh was said to have remained in the Irish Republic until detained by the PSNI at Portadown train station.

It was claimed tests revealed a low amount of RDX explosive component on the clothing that had been seized from him in Donegal.

The prosecution alleged there was material pointing to McVeigh being the person who actually placed the device under the officer's car.

In March this year two men, aged 29 and 32, were detained in Dublin by Gardai under a European Arrest Warrant issued by the PSNI.

They were also questioned about possession of explosives with intent to endanger life in connection with the attempted bombing in Eglinton.

Both men are currently awaiting extradition proceedings before the High Court in Dublin.

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