Northern Ireland news

Police officer tells bomb trial: 'I wasn't able to stop speeding cars'

Sean McVeigh is on trial and denies the attempted murder of a police officer in Eglinton, Co Derry on June 18 2015

A POLICE officer has told the trial of a man accused of planting a bomb under an off-duty PSNI colleague's car how he had to "step off the road'' from two speeding cars he was trying to stop.

He was giving evidence at Belfast Crown Court where Sean McVeigh (37) of Victoria Street, Lurgan is on trial and denies the attempted murder of a police officer in Eglinton, Co Derry on June 18 2015.

McVeigh also denies possession of the under-vehicle improvised explosive device.

The trial has already heard McVeigh and two men were arrested by Gardai outside Killgordon in Co Donegal in a black Volkswagen Passat car on the same date.

The police constable told the court he was on patrol in Derry during the early hours of June 18 2015 when he received a radio message to set up a checkpoint at Foyle Bridge.

He said as he and another patrol vehicle were in the process of setting it up when he "could hear vehicles approaching from the Waterside area of Derry".

"I turned around and there was a brow of a hill. I could see the headlights of a car approaching," he said.

"I stepped out into the middle of the road with my torch. I then realised the vehicles were travelling at a really, really excessive speed and I was going to be able to stop them so I stepped off the road."

Asked by a prosecution lawyer if the two vehicles made any attempt to slow down, he replied: "no", adding that the vehicles were "travelling so fast'' they were unable to set up the checkpoint.

He said one of the cars was a "saloon type vehicle with a southern registration, but I couldn't make out any details of the registration''.

He said he saw a driver, who was wearing a hat, and a front-seat passenger in the saloon car, adding that the second vehicle was "extremely close'' to it.

He said the second car also had a southern registration, but he could not say who was in it. He said the two cars headed onto the Culmore roundabout, onto Madamsbank Road towards Ballyarnett.

He denied a defence contention that according to a forensic engineer's examination on the bridge, the officer could not have seen the roundabout at Culmore from where the police vehicles were parked in a layby at Boom Hall.

Defence barrister Dessie Hutton asked: "If you where were you say you where, how were you able to see what you say you saw?''

The officer replied: "I watched the vehicles and where they went.''

The trial continues.

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