A MAN facing terrorism charges related to an alleged attack on Enniskillen Police Station has been granted bail, pending appeal.
Gabriel Paul Meehan (43), of Pound Street, Irvinestown, is facing possession of articles for use in terrorism between March 12 and May 7, 2020; possession of information useful for terrorists and possession of documents, records useful to terrorism, namely vehicle details of a member of the security forces which relate to March 30, 2020, and possession of firearm or ammunition between March 12, 2020, and March 18, 2020, namely an improvised shotgun and a shotgun cartridge.
At Enniskillen Magistrates Court on Monday, Meehan appeared via video link from Maghaberry Prison where he has been on remand since his arrest.
This was his third bail application which the Public Prosecution Service (PPS) was objecting to.
A prosecution barrister said there was no change in the case and that the application for bail made due to the passage of time did not touch on the prima facie case or the risk of reoffending.
Outlining the case, Mrs. Pinkerton detailed how calls were made to several lmedia outlets in March 2020 claiming shots had been fired at Enniskillen Police Station.
A device was located in the Riverside area of Enniskillen opposite the police station on March 17 consisting of piping and a shotgun cartridge. This was taken for examination and found to be an improvised shotgun, known as a slam gun with a spent 12 gauge shotgun cartridge.
The court heard Meehan’s house and car were searched on March 30 and a mobile phone was discovered in a hide made out from hollowing a bedroom door.
A receipt was found between the phone and phone cover which had a vehicle registration written on it. This registration belonged to a British Army Captain who, when contacted, said he did not know Meehan or how he could have got his registration.
CCTV was later discovered showing the soldier’s car leaving a barracks in Enniskillen on March 16 and travelling behind Meehan’s car for 500 metres before going off in a different direction, the court was told.
On the phone were photos of the improvised device in situ, while another phone had more photos of the device and messages between two other people of interest who were being investigated by Garda Siochana for IRA membership.
There were also photos of Enniskillen Police Station and routes to and from the device, said Mrs. Pinkerton.
Mrs. Pinkerton added that during a search, Meehan’s bags were seen packed with passport on top of them which showed he was planning to leave the jurisdiction and pointed out Meehan gave a largely no comment interview until he was presented with the evidence to which he then gave a prepared statement.
She said that while the change is the passage of time, the risk had not been reduced and Meehan could not be managed on bail
Meehan’s barrister, Joe Brolly, told the court his client was a member of Republican Sinn Féin and was the party liaison for the local press. He said the photos of the device were to be used for publicity purposes by RSF and pointed out from March 13, it was well-known police were searching for a device in the area.
Regarding the vehicle registration of the British soldier, Mr. Brolly said his client took it down as he believed he was being followed.
And, Mr Brolly said, it was not until the soldier was shown the CCTV footage of him behind Meehan’s car that an explanation could be given for how he got the vehicle registration.
He went on to detail how alleged MI6 agents had approached Meehan on numerous occasions to try and get information while money was also put through his letterbox on three different occasions and this led to paranoia about his safety.
These incidents were all logged with Meehan’s solicitor, Mr. Brolly told the court.
When asked if the vehicle registration was marked, Mr. Brolly consulted with Meehan’s solicitor. He updated the court that because Meehan was making regular calls and there was nothing illegal about the approaches, the solicitor told him there was nothing that could be done and the logging of incidents stopped.
Mr. Brolly pointed to Meehan’s criminal record where the last entry was a no insurance charge in 2004 and that it was “an outright exaggeration he couldn’t be managed under bail conditions”.
He also pointed out how the accused in the Lyra McKee murder case were granted bail despite strong objections and this applicant was on an “entirely different level”.
“It is commensurate and proper with juris prudence he now be released on bail,” said Mr. Brolly.
District Judge Steven Keown said it was quite clear there was a change of circumstance based on delay and granted Meehan bail under a series of conditions including finding an address suitable to police for bail.
However, Mrs. Pinkerton informed the court there would be an appeal on the decision lodged at the High Court. The case was adjourned until January 17.
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