Northern Ireland news

Sean McVeigh: Co Armagh man convicted of bomb bid to kill police officer could face up to 25 years in prison

Sean McVeigh was convicted of the attempted murder of a police officer in Eglinton, Co Derry

A Co Armagh man convicted of the attempted murder of an off-duty police officer at his home with a "sophisticated'' under-car bomb could face up to 25 years in prison.

Sean McVeigh (38), of Victoria Gardens in Lurgan, was also found guilty at his non-jury trial of possessing explosives with intent to endanger life almost four years ago.

The murder bid was foiled when the PSNI officer's wife raised the alarm at their home in the Eglinton area of Co Derry in the early hours of June 18 2015.

McVeigh was arrested by gardaĆ­ in Co Donegal following a car chase a short time later.

Judge Stephen Fowler told Belfast Crown Court the attack was a "well thought-out, planned terrorist plot".

Outlining the aggravating features in the case yesterday, a prosecution QC described the device planted on the police officer's car as "sophisticated", using more than 300g of an "unusual type of semtex" called RDX and a mercury tilt switch.

The police officer and his wife, said the lawyer, either individually or together could have been seriously injured or killed but for the "fortuitous intervention'' of the woman.

He referred the judge to previous cases for similar offences where sentences of between 22 and 25 years had been imposed.

The lawyer said given McVeigh's conviction for serious offences, the court had to consider whether he posed a danger to the public in the future.

The court heard he had 36 previous convictions dating back to 1999, for offences relating to assault on police, resisting police and disorderly behaviour.

The lawyer said it was evident from McVeigh's record that "there is an attitude towards the police''.

Defence counsel Orlando Pownall said no evidence had been presented to the court that McVeigh posed any danger to the public in the future and there was nothing to suggest he would involve himself in such similar type offending.

He added: "There can be no argument... that these offences involved a terrorist plan and the intended victim was a police officer involved in a public service.

"He (McVeigh) has shown no obvious sign of remorse and mercifully no one was injured.''

Judge Fowler said he would pass sentence next Friday.

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