Accused recorded discussing ‘chilling’ attacks

ALLEGED dissident republicans were covertly recorded during “chilling” discussions about attacks on police, targeting Catholics and weapon capabilities, the High Court in Belfast was told last week.

Northern Ireland’s Director of Public Prosecutions also claimed they specifically involved another man at a suspected terrorist training camp because of his clear record.

Barra McGrory QC appeared in person at the bail application due to the perceived seriousness of the legal issues raised in the case.

Gavin Joseph Coney, 35, of Gortichashel Road, Omagh, Co Tyrone, denies charges of preparation of terrorist acts, possession of a firearm with intent to endanger life or property, and attending a place used for terrorist training.

He is alleged to have been at a camp in Formil Wood, close to his home, on March 30 when 200 rifle rounds were fired.

It has been claimed that balloons were pinned to trees as targets, and that only 15 shell cases were recovered due to a deliberate attempt to cleanse the area of evidence.

Searches of his house were said to have led to the recovery of a legally held rifle, silencer, ammunition, balaclavas, dark jackets and gloves.

Part of the prosecution case centres on a surveillance operation which led to conversations between two co-accused being recorded on other occasions.

Discussions between Sharon Rafferty, 37, from Cavana Linn, Pomeroy and Sean Kelly, 46, from Duneane Crescent, Toomebridge allegedly refer to firearms training, the penetrative power of a .22 rifle against humans, and walking up to people and putting nine rounds in them.

Other talks touched on the business of active service units, leadership meetings, recruitment, arms acquisition and finance, it has been claimed.

A previous court was told conversations referred to the murder of Constable Ronan Kerr and the negative publicity of killing a police officer.

Reference was also allegedly made to the January 2010 car bombing in which Constable Peader Heffron was critically injured and had to have a leg amputated.

Coney is not accused of being involved in those discussions.

Following lengthy legal submissions the judge, Mr Justice Maguire, reserved his decision on whether to grant bail.