Northern Ireland

Man jailed for plot to kill police officer may have sentence referred for appeal

Gavin Coyle, 33, of Omagh, was given a six-year sentence (PA)
Gavin Coyle, 33, of Omagh, was given a six-year sentence (PA) Gavin Coyle, 33, of Omagh, was given a six-year sentence (PA)

Northern Ireland’s prosecution service is considering referring a six-year sentence for a man involved in a plot to kill a police officer for appeal.

Gavin Coyle, 46, from Omagh, will serve four years in prison after pleading guilty to IRA membership and providing a car to be used by terrorists.

That car was used in an operation to plant a bomb under the car of a serving police officer in May 2008.

The Tyrone brigade of the Real IRA claimed responsibility for the attack.

The bomb exploded as the officer drove to work. They survived but were left with what has been described as permanent disfiguring injuries.

At Belfast Crown Court on Friday, Judge Patricia Smyth sentenced Coyle to six years, and he will have to serve two thirds before he will become eligible for release.

On Monday, the Public Prosecution Service (PPS) said it is considering whether there is legal ground to refer the sentence to the Court of Appeal.

An application to the Court of Appeal must be made within 28 days of when the sentence was handed down.

A PPS spokesperson said: “While sentencing is a matter for the judiciary, the Director of Public Prosecutions does have the power to refer particular sentences to the Court of Appeal on the grounds that they may be unduly lenient.

“An unduly lenient sentence is one that falls outside the range of sentences that a judge, taking into consideration all relevant factors and having regard to sentencing guidance, could reasonably consider appropriate.

“We are considering whether there is a legal ground to refer the sentence in this case to the Court of Appeal for consideration.”