Bail refused again to Lurgan man accused of planning dissident attack

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A Co Armagh man accused of involvement in dissident republican activity has been refused High Court bail for the second time.

Ciaran Magee is currently in custody charged with preparing terrorist acts, namely targeting a former police officer.

He was granted bail by a district judge at Craigavon Magistrates’ Court on July 7, but the decision was appealed by the Crown, with the appeal upheld by Mrs Justice Keegan on Monday.

The offence arises from the alleged possession and deployment of an improvised explosive device (IED) by a group named in court as the New Irish Republican Army.

Magee, from Lake Street in Lurgan, is one of three men facing terrorist charges dating back to last September. It is alleged that the trio used a camera to film the home of a retired police officer in Magheralin as part of terrorist information gathering. An IED was later discovered in the attic of a house during planned searches in Lurgan.

However, a barrister acting on behalf of the 25-year-old told Mrs Justice Keegan that while there was forensic evidence linking the two co-accused to the charge, no such evidence existed against Magee.

The barrister also spoke of a delay in the holding of a preliminary enquiry which he said may well result in the charge against Magee being withdrawn.

Prosecuting counsel Kate McKay told the High Court the PPS was appealing the decision made by a district judge last week to grant Magee bail, on the grounds he may reoffend and “potentially flee the jurisdiction” and cross the border.

Regarding a delay in the holding of the PE, Mrs McKay said it had been listed to take place this Friday (14th), but after the PSNI requested more time in relation to the case against Magee, it had been relisted for mention on August 4.

Describing the case against Magee and his co-accused as “complex”, Mrs McKay said “clearly there is work being done on it”.

Mrs McKay said it was the Crown’s case that there had been no change in circumstances since Magee’s last unsuccessful High Court bail application last November.

Asking that Magee be released on bail, as per the ruling of the district judge, Magee’s barrister spoke of “deficiencies in the prosecution case” against his client, including a lack of forensic evidence linking him to either the camera or the IED.

The barrister said: “Mr Magee finds himself in a position where it’s coming up to a year where he was arrested and put in custody. The prosecution are still seeking further information before they come to a decision either to prosecute or not prosecute. There is a very real prospect there will be no prosecution against Mr Magee.”

He added that if granted bail, Magee would adhere to any strict conditions such as moving from the area and living in Newry, observing a curfew and having restrictions placed on his mobile use and internet access.

Replying to suggestions there was no case against Magee, Crown barrister Kate McKay said: “While I accept there is no forensic evidence against him and there is in respect of the others, the prosecution case is based on surveillance and telephone evidence.

“The surveillance shows this applicant in the company of the others against whom there is forensic evidence, and his (Magee’s) car was also used by these persons ... he is seen with them in the vehicle when these acts are being carried out.”

After considering the application, Mrs Justice Keegan said she was upholding the Crown appeal and was not granting bail.

The judge spoke of the “short period of time” between Monday’s application and the PE taking place, but suggested that any further delays on behalf of the Crown could warrant another application for High Court bail.