Man convicted for station explosion

Coalisland Station
Coalisland Station

A 41-year-old Co Tyrone man has been remanded into custody after being convicted at Belfast Crown Court of causing an explosion over two decades ago.

Refusing bail to father-of-four Paul Campbell, The Recorder, Judge David McFarland told him that a prison sentence was inevitable and that there was “no reason why he should not start serving it now”.

Campbell, from The Mills, Coalisland, who denied causing the explosion at the police station on March 26, 1997, maintained he was innocently caught-up in events while going to get a video, and was shot and wounded by an undercover soldier. He then fled to the Republic and was treated in Louth Hospital.

However, Judge McFarland dismissed Campbell’s claims, ruling that he was “sure” that he was assisting the bomber, who was also shot and wounded by a ‘Soldier A’.

Judge McFarland, who delivered his judgement after hearing the Diplock style case without a jury, said: “I am satisfied that the prosecution have proved to the extent that I am firmly convinced that the defendant unlawfully and maliciously caused an explosion of a nature likely to endanger life.”

Campbell will be sentenced on February 26 following the presentation of pre-sentence reports.

Judge McFarland said ‘Soldier A’ who was in Coalisland that evening and spotted two men running along Line Quay.

Two men disappeared down an alleyway, followed moments later by two explosions, and the two men came running back out. Soldier A fired two warning shots after identifying himself as Army.

The soldier shot and wounded one man, later identified as Gareth Doris, who was jailed in September 1998 for his role in the blast.

Soldier A then fired at the other suspect who got into a white car.

The prosecution claimed Campbell was the second man, and that he was the bomber, or assisting the actual bomber, and that both were acting jointly.

The judge said “the core” of Campbell’s defence was that “Soldier A has invented the presence of the second man to justify his actions that evening with the alleged unlawful discharge of his weapon generally, and specifically at Gareth Doris, at the defendant and towards two occupied vehicles”.

Campbell described two men firing shots, and of feeling a burning sensation in his groin area.

Judge McFarland said Campbell’s story “has all the appearance of one concocted to fit the prosecution case against him” and only when the challenge to the accuracy of the forensic evidence from the white car could not stand, “that he (Campbell) came forward with the version which he eventually gave in evidence”.

He added: “A finding which rejects the defence’s explanation as to his presence in Lineside Quay is not sufficient by itself to find him guilty, but the elimination of his explanation as to what happened and what he did, does support the prosecution case against him.”