Northern Ireland news

Explosives expert rejects suggestion car bomb designed to fail

The incident occurred at Shandon Park Golf Club in east Belfast on June 1 2019

A SENIOR explosives expert who dealt with a bomb left under a police officer's car has rejected a suggestion that the device was deliberately designed to fail.

The witness was called to give evidence at the second day of a trial connected to the discovery of a mercury tilt-switch device.

An off-duty police officer drove from his home to Shandon Park Golf Club in east Belfast on June 1 2019.

He parked his Cherokee in the car park and noticed the device attached to the underside of the vehicle when he returned from a round of golf.

The army was tasked to deal with the device and carried out a controlled explosion.

One of the explosives experts who attended was called to give evidence at the non-jury trial at Belfast Crown Court.

A defence barrister spoke of the device's "failure to operate" and asked the witness whether this could have been "done deliberately" during its construction.

The witness replied: "In my experience I have never seen a device of the nature on that day set up to deliberately fail.

"I don't accept deliberate as I've never experienced it, but I do accept ineptitude."

Peter Thomas Granaghan (41), of Blackrock Park in Belleek, is standing trial on three charges arising from the bomb plot.

He has been charged with, and denies, attempting to murder a serving member of the PSNI, and both making and possessing explosives with intent to endanger life.

It is the Crown's case that his DNA was located on two separate component parts of the under-vehicle IED which they say is "consistent with the accused being in possession of and involved with the device at a stage when it was being constructed".

During Friday's hearing, the Crown played CCTV footage concerning two vehicles - a silver Saab and a green Skoda - allegedly involved in the incident.

The footage captured the two cars travelling in east Belfast in the early hours of June 1, 2019.

The Crown also read statements regarding the destruction of the same two cars, which were burned out in the Ardoyne area of Belfast.

A local resident said she was woken from her sleep just before 2am on June 1, 2019 by car horns sounding.

She said that when she looked out her bedroom window, she saw two cars on fire and called the fire service.

Statements were also read from police officers - one of whom confirmed the car registrations of the Skoda and the Saab captured on CCTV, and another who confirmed the same registration plates were removed from the scene of the two burned out cars.

The hearing has been adjourned and will resume again on November 1.

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