Pipe bomb accused remanded in custody

June 20, 2016

A Newry man who admitted possessing viable components for three pipe bombs in suspicious circumstances has been remanded in custody.

A plastic bag containing the components was discovered on waste ground in the Camlough Road area of Newry close to the A1 on February 13 2014.

Twenty year old Andrew Magee, from Parkhead Crescent in the city, admitted possessing explosive substances, namely three pipe bombs, two lengths of copper pipe and 25 ball bearings in suspicious circumstances.

His barrister told Belfast Crown Court that his client was essentially a “patsy” who came to be in possession of the items while under the influence of another man, 13 years his senior.

Prosecuting barrister Michael Chambers, revealed that in February 2014 police assisted by the military had unearthed the bag which had been hidden under tufts of grass on waste ground close to Magee’s house.

In the bag were a number of pipe bombs and suspected pipe bomb component parts.  Further examination of the contents determined that there were three viable pipe bomb devices.

Magee was arrested after a forensic examination revealed his fingerprint was present on the plastic bag.  During his first interview, he gave a pre-prepared statement claiming he knew nothing about the pipe bombs.

When confronted with the forensic fingerprint evidence Magee then claimed he had been walking his dog on the waste ground, his dog had found the items in the grass, and he lifted the bag up after his dog nuzzled it.  He also claimed he was placed under a form of duress.

The prosecuting lawyer said Magee accepted that he knew there were pipe bombs in the bag, but that he was not aware of the precise readiness of the devices.

Defence barrister Greg Berry QC highlighted that his client was only 18 at the time of the offending, and said he had fallen under the influence of an older figure.

He said it was clear that Magee was “the subject of pressure” and he described his role as “limited”, adding: “He essentially hid these items at the direction of other more sinister individuals.”

Judge Gordon Kerr QC remanded Magee into custody for sentencing this week.