Northern Ireland news

Couple in court accused of having a viable explosive device

Ross Hardy and Rebecca Gregory appeared in court today on explosives charges.

A couple appeared in court accused of having a viable explosive device.

Standing side by side in the dock of Banbridge Magistrates Court, sitting in Newry, Ross Hardy and Rebecca Jane Gallagher Gregory, both 21, confirmed they understood the charges against them.

Hardy, of no fixed address in Lurgan and Gallagher, from Woodview Park in Tandragee, are jointly charged with possessing explosives under suspicious circumstances on November 30 this year.

While Hardy faces a further charge of possessing an explosive device under suspicious circumstances, Gallagher was also accused of possessing class B cannabis on the same date.

The charges arise after an improvised blast bomb device was found on Saturday at Gregory’s home on Woodview Park at about 10:25am.

Bomb disposal experts made the device safe and recovered it for further examination.

Giving evidence, a police officer said that while Gregory claimed to he hold the device “under threat,” her partner Hardy had made “full and frank confessions” to having built the device about a year ago.

A prosecuting lawyer told the court the device was uncovered in a kitchen cupboard, adding that Gregory’s three children, all under four, were present in the house at the time of the seizure.

Arrested and interviewed, Gregory admitted having the small amount of cannabis and claimed that a man she refused to name had given her the bomb to hold about three weeks beforehand, further claiming she “felt frightened” of him.

The lawyer said Hardy had confessed to building the bomb “approximately a year ago” at Lovers Lane in Tandragee.

He admitted to police that “he had found himself in difficulty, physically around that time - he had been picked on in fights” so he had built the bomb “intending to use it, if required, to frighten people who sought to fight him,” said the lawyer.

The lawyer further revealed that an initial examination indicated it had been constructed using powder from fireworks with a fuse from a banger and that it also contained shrapnel such as screws, batteries and a “small torch.”

Under cross examination from defence solicitor Kevin McCamley, the police officer agreed that neither defendant had any connections to paramilitaries.

Describing the device as “amateurish and thrown together,” Judge Copeland said nevertheless the device was such to cause “significant concern” so he did not feel it appropriate to free Hardy on bail.

Turning to Gregory, the judge said it was with “some reluctance” that he was freeing her on bail but that his decision was “almost exclusively” based on the fact that she had responsibilities to three young children.

Gregory was freed on her own bail if £750 with two £1,000 sureties with conditions that she keeps a curfew, reports to police three times a week and has no contact with her partner Hardy.

Both defendant will appear at Armagh Magistrates Court on 17 December.

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