Northern Ireland news

Targeted householder Niall Lehd has explosives conviction

Claire Simpson
22 September, 2016 01:00

A MAN whose home was attacked by masked men wielding hatchets in Larne was convicted two years ago of possessing explosives never seen before in the north.

Niall Lehd (27), his partner and young son escaped injury after their home on Seahill Road in the Co Antrim town was attacked at around 1.20am yesterday. The attackers smashed several windows and hacked at the front door of the house.

Around the same time, a separate couple in their twenties escaped uninjured after their home on Fleet Street, around two miles away from Seahill Road, was also attacked by masked men armed with hatchets. Windows and doors were smashed and the inside of the house was damaged.

Shortly after the homes were attacked a car was torched in a field at Walnut Avenue. Police are investigating a possible link between the attacks.

Lehd was arrested late last month as part of an investigation into dissident republican activity. He was later released without charge.

In 2014 Lehd was sentenced to three years in jail after he pleaded guilty to possession of explosives with intent to endanger life and having a firearm or ammunition in suspicious circumstances.

He was arrested in February 2013, after a bag of high explosives was found on a doorstep in the town. Most of the main explosive discovered was DDNP (Diazodinitrophenol) - the first time the high explosive was found in the north.

Lehd's arrest last month came a week after Royal Marine Ciaran Maxwell (30), who is from Larne, was arrested in England about dissident republican arms caches. Maxwell, with an address in Exminster, Devon, is due to stand trial in February accused of crimes including stashing explosives and weapons in purpose-built caches in the north and in England.

Meanwhile, it is understood a shotgun was stolen in a burglary at a house in the Channel Vista area of Glenarm between 7.30pm and 10pm on Tuesday. Several windows were also damaged in the burglary.

A police spokesman said officers were not investigating a link between the Glenarm burglary and the Larne attacks at this stage.

Sinn Féin MLA Oliver McMullan condemned the Larne attacks and said such crimes were becoming "all too prevalent" in the town.

“Attacks of this nature are becoming all too prevalent in Larne. There is a palpable fear within the local community as these attacks continue.

“I am calling on the PSNI to dedicate additional resources into Larne. "

22 September, 2016 01:00 Northern Ireland news