Newspaper for Crossmaglen, South Armagh, Newry and Down.

Bail granted to seven accused over MI5 sting

Bail has been granted to seven men involved in alleged Continuity IRA terror plots, which were covertly recorded in an MI5 sting operation in Newry last year.

The men were among ten arrested after police stormed a property in Ardcarne Park on 10th November.  The house had been under surveillance for several months where dozens of meetings between the accused were secretly recorded.

Two of the ten have already been released on bail – Terence Marks (54) and 76-year-old Sean O’Neill from Parkhead Crescent in Newry, who has been freed on compassionate grounds for health reasons.

A bail application for the tenth man, John Sheehy (31) from Co. Kerry, has been adjourned until next week until a suitable bail address north of the border is found.

District Judge Eamon King bailed the men despite objections from the prosecution that they posed a risk of further offences, absconding or interfering with the ongoing investigation.

They were released on their own bail of £950 with conditions that they each have two sureties, report to police and do not associate with each other.

The ten men are jointly charged with CIRA offences after months of covert recordings of meetings at the Ardcarne Park home of defendant Colin Winters (44) where, according to the Crown case, tapes revealed plans for attacks on transport infrastructure and sniper strikes on high-profile targets.

Other topics allegedly discussed included membership of an outlawed organisation, weapons procurement and training, terrorist funding, recruitment and plans to commit acts of terrorism.

The five men facing a count of directing terrorism, along with the four other charges including IRA membership, conspiring to possess explosives, firearms and ammunition and preparing terrorist acts are: Patrick Joseph Blair (59), from Villas Park, Dundalk; Liam James Hannaway (45), from White Rise, Dunmurry, Co Antrim; Joseph Matthew Lynch (74), from Beechgrove Avenue, Limerick; Sean O’Neill (76), from Quinn’s Cottages, Limerick, and Colin Patrick Winters (44), from Ardcarn Park, Newry.

Facing four charges is John Sheehy (31), from Clounmacon, Listowel, Co Kerry; Terence Marks is accused of IRA membership and conspiring to cause an explosion, while fellow Newry man Kevin Heaney (42), from Mourne View Park, is accused of membership and receiving instructions on terrorism.

Facing a single charge of membership is Seamus Morgan (59), from Barcroft Park, also Newry, while Joseph Pearce (45), from Cloyharevan Park in Bessbrook, is charged with two counts of collecting information likely to be of use to terrorists.

All the offences are alleged to have occurred between August 1 and November 11 last year.

In Wednesday’s hearing at Newry Magistrates’ Court, a prosecutor revealed that, according to voice comparison expert Professor French, the voices of each defendant ranged from “distinctive to highly distinctive”, and that for some of the men, his comparisons provided “strong support” for the argument it was those individuals speaking on the covert recordings.