Judge acquits man jailed over Newry bomb attack

November 16, 2010

By Brónagh Murphy

A Newry man, jailed for 14 years for a mortar bomb attack on the city’s police station, has been acquitted of the attack.

Gary Jones (43), from Castlekeele, had been accused of possessing an improvised mortar bomb with intent to cause an explosion and endanger life in an attack on the Corry Square base on 21 July, 1998.

At Belfast Crown Court on Friday, Mr Justice McCloskey said that despite a spot of Jones’ blood being found on a jumper taken from the driver of the bomb van, he could not be sure “beyond reasonable doubt” that he had been the driver of the van.

The judge told the court that this single piece of evidence against Jones “does not point in a single direction”.

In 2006 Mr Justice Morgan convicted Jones of the attack and jailed him for 14 years but that was quashed on appeal and a retrial ordered.

During the trial, which began on September 14th, the court heard that an explosives-filled gas canister was launched from the back of a van, but landed only a few feet away and failed to explode. The van had collided with a parked car as it was driven into the car park and, as the driver fled the scene, he was tackled by a member of the public who wrestled his jumper from him.

In his summing up, Mr Justice McCloskey stated that extensive forensic examinations of the bomb van, a yellow hard hat, a denim jacket and the bomb itself had yielded no further evidence or connections to Mr Jones.  Taking into account the accused’s claims of innocence, he concluded that “the verdict must be one of not guilty”.

Speaking as he left the court on Friday, Mr Jones said: “I’m just glad it’s all over”.