The trial date has been set for three men and a woman charged with attending an alleged ‘Real IRA’ training camp in Co Tyrone which had been under security force surveillance.
Belfast Recorder Judge David McFarland said the non-jury trial of the four defendants will start on Monday, June 9, adding that it is expected to last up to six weeks.
The accused are: Gavin Coney (36), of Gorticashel Road, Greencastle, Co Tyrone; his brother Aiden Coney (34), of Malabhul Road, Omagh; Sharon Rafferty (38), of Cavana Linn, Pomeroy; and Sean Kelly (47) of Duneane Crescent, Toombebridge.
They were charged by detectives from the PSNI’s Serious Crime Branch following the discovery of the firing range at Formil Wood, Co Tyrone, in March 2012.
Judge McFarland said that part of the delay in the case coming to trial was that an Army Technical Officer who attended the firing rang was outside the jurisdiction and would not be returning to Northern Ireland until some time in May.
Defence counsels for the accused raised no objections to the trial date.
Mark Mulholland QC for one of the defendants told the judge: “I have no strong objections to the trial date.
“However, I am just mindful that there will be a lot of material relating to covert recordings which will take some time to go through.”
The secret recordings relate to conversations allegedly between Sean Kelly and Sharon Rafferty from 2011 until April 2012.
When the accused first appeared at Omagh Magistrates Court in May 2012, a PSNI detective told the district judge that during the conversations, Kelly and Rafferty allegedly discussed targeting police officers and senior prison officers, acquiring firearms, firearms training, recruiting and providing finance for an organisation.
The police officer added that the pair also discussed the penetrative power of a .22 rifle on the human body.
During a successful bail application last November by Gavin Coney, prosecutors claimed the training camp was in the advanced stage of preparations for a terrorist attack on police or the public.
Coney is charged with possessing firearms and ammunition with intent, possessing a firearm and ammunition in suspicious circumstances, attending at a place used for terrorists, possession of articles for use in terrorism, possessing a firearm without a certificate, and preparation of acts of terrorism.
Some of the charges relate to his legally held .22 Walter rifle and also having a sounder moderator or ‘silencer’ for the weapon, possessing four balaclavas, four water proof jackets, four pairs of waterproof trousers, four pairs of training shoes and two pairs of gloves for use in acts of terrorism.
It is alleged the weapon was used to shoot balloons on the makeshit firing range on the Gorticashel Road which had been under security force surveillance for months.
During the bail application, a prosecution lawyer told Belfast Crown that the clothing and shoes which were found at Coney’s home were essentially “four sets of full kit” for use at the Formil Wood training camp.
He said the .22 Walter rifle was seized by police and his firearms certificate would more than likely now be revoked.
Coney was granted bail after a defence QC told Recorder Judge David McFarland that Coney’s parents-in-law, Anthony and Patricia Donnelly, were prepared to put up the deeds to their home and outbuildings at Gorticashel Road, valued at £140,000, in lieu of a £20,000 surety sought by the Crown.
Following legal submissions, Judge McFarland agreed to release Coney on bail subject to strict conditions.