Northern Ireland news

Derry man cleared of explosives charges after direction to find not guilty

Gary Burke (40) has been cleared of charges of possessing explosives

A Derry man has been formally cleared of charges of possessing explosives after prosecutors decided not to appeal a judge's direction to find him not guilty.

Gary Burke (40) had denied possessing the materials - uncovered in his then Ederowen Park home on December 13 2017 - with intent and under suspicious circumstances and possessing them for use in terrorism.

Belfast Crown Court heard he always maintained he knew nothing of the timers, a modified 50 calibre round of ammunition and other items found in a cubby-hole in the kitchen of his Galliagh home.

He said he had returned to find police engaged in a search but had no reason to suspect there was anything in the house.

"I have not seen any of the items before and I know absolutely nothing about these items," he told police.

Officers were initially carrying out a search for drugs and associated items, but when they found the materials in two plastic bags under a toolbox in the kitchen cubby-hole a number of homes were cleared for safety.

A search uncovered a number of individually wrapped timers, together with a lunch box and switches, wires, plastic toggles, the round of ammunition and a set of Christmas lights.

A detective sergeant later told a defence lawyer that while it was claimed Mr Burke was the only tenant, it transpired up to six others may also have had keys to the property and none of the partial DNA profiles recovered from the materials matched his.

The defence argued that there was nothing in the prosecution case linking Mr Burke to any of the items or knowledge or control of them, and that the "material factors in the case were inconsistent with guilt".

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