Northern Ireland news

Sean McVeigh: Dissident jailed for 25 years for planting bomb under PSNI officer's car

Sean McVeigh was handed a 25-year jail term for the attempted murder of a police officer in Eglinton, Co Derry on June 18 2015

Dissident republican Sean McVeigh has been sentenced to 25 years in jail for planting a bomb under the car of a PSNI officer in Co Derry in 2015.

Sean McVeigh (38), of Victoria Gardens in Lurgan, Co Armagh, was convicted earlier this month of the attempted murder of the off-duty officer.

He was also found guilty at his non-jury trial at Belfast Crown Court of possessing explosives with intent to endanger life.

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 gardaí in Co Donegal following a car chase a short time later.

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Forensics examine the scene where a bomb was found under the car of a serving PSNI officer in Eglinton village on the outskirts of Derry in 2015.

Judge Stephen Fowler described McVeigh as a "committed dissident republican terrorist" who had planted a device which had "one purpose, to kill anyone unfortunate enough to be in the car".

The judge said there were two potential victims - the PSNI officer and his wife who is also a police officer.

He said it was "entirely fortuitous" that the planting of the bomb was disrupted and that both could have been in the car, and added that given the car was parked in a residential area there could easily have been multiple deaths.

"I have no doubt this was a terrifying ordeal for both officers," Judge Fowler said.

Police and forensic officers at the scene where a bomb was found under the car of a serving PSNI officer in Eglinton in 2015

As McVeigh was led from the dock, a group of men in the public gallery raised their right arms with clenched fists.

Speaking outside court, PSNI Detective Chief Inspector John Caldwell said Northern Ireland is a safer place with McVeigh in custody.

"Sean McVeigh chose to attack two officers who had selflessly chosen to protect their community and keep people safe despite the ever-present threat posed by dissident republicans," he said.

"I am thankful that despite Sean's evil intentions, he was unable to take these people away from their families and destroy numerous lives all in the name of his warped ideology.

"Sean gave little thought to the community of Eglinton and his reckless actions could have caused devastating harm to residents living in the area if the bomb had exploded. Furthermore, the incident caused considerable disruption and upset to the local community, some of whom had to be evacuated from their homes in the middle of the night.

"Today's success follows a rigorous investigation by detectives and I welcome the fact that Sean McVeigh is behind bars. His plan was to destroy lives and it demonstrates the ruthlessness and recklessness of those opposed to peace and who live for violence."

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