Police murder plot accused willing to ‘do 15 years’

Alex McCrory (left) is taken into custody at Belfast magistrates court. Picture date: Tuesday December 17, 2013.

Alex McCrory (left) is taken into custody at Belfast magistrates court. Picture date: Tuesday December 17, 2013.

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An alleged top dissident republican terrorist and co-accused of Lurgan man Colin Duffy was secretly recorded telling associates he was prepared to “do 15 years” if it meant a police officer being killed, the High Court has heard.

Prosecutors claimed Alex McCrory made the “chilling” comments during discussions in the aftermath of a gun attack on a PSNI convoy in north Belfast.

Colin Duffy

Colin Duffy

Details emerged as the 53-year-old mounted a fresh bid to be released on bail.

McCrory, of Sliabh Dubh View in Belfast, was arrested along with Colin Duffy and Henry Fitzsimons, both 47, following the shooting incident back in December 2013.

A PSNI Land Rover and two accompanying vehicles came under fire on the Crumlin Road.

Two AK47 rifles and spent rounds of ammunition were later recovered along with a hijacked and burnt-out taxi.

McCrory faces charges of conspiring with Duffy and Fitzsimons to murder members of the security forces and IRA membership.

He is also accused of attempting to murder police officers, and possessing firearms and ammunition with intent to endanger life.

Charges were brought against him, Duffy, from Forest Glade in Lurgan, and Fitzsimons, of no fixed address, following a covert surveillance operation.

Security services recorded the three men meeting near Duffy’s home a day after the gun attack, the prosecution alleges.

According to a Crown lawyer they held in-depth discussions about the attempt to kill officers and the weapons used.

The talks also centred on how future operations needed to focus on targets with a high likelihood of “getting a kill”, the court heard.

Those being recorded were said to have described the north Belfast attack as risky because it was more likely to result in lost guns than the taking of a life.

It was alleged that McCrory was central to the discussions.

“Particularly chilling...he states he would be willing to do 15 years provided at least there was a police officer injured or killed,” prosecution counsel claimed.

“But he wouldn’t be (willing) for simple possession of coffee jar bombs as he sees it.”

McCrory renewed his bid to be released from custody based on delays in deciding whether the three accused should stand trial.

Mr Justice Burgess was told the Public Prosecution Service was ready for a preliminary enquiry hearing to take place nine months ago.

But defence barrister Dessie Hutton argued that the hold-up was caused by problems reformatting audio and visual exhibits served on his client and solicitors.

With the preliminary enquiry now re-listed for January, Mr Hutton stressed McCrory will have spent two years in custody before it is determined if he has a case to answer.

It was predicted that any subsequent trial will not get underway until autumn next year.

Questioning the strength of the evidence against his client, the barrister added: “The defence will be contesting the committal and suggesting there isn’t a sufficient case to go to a jury.”

Following submissions the judge adjourned the bail application to consider the issues raised.