Mystery businessman offers bail surety for republican to go to son’s christening

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A mystery businessman is willing to put up a surety for the temporary release of a Lurgan republican who wants to go to his son’s christening, a court has been told.

Sean McVeigh, charged with attempting to murder a police officer with an under car booby trap bomb last year, has had the bail application adjourned.

His bid to be released so he can attend the christening in three weeks’ time was halted at Derry Magistrates’ Court while PSNI carry out a check on his named surety.

McVeigh, aged 35 from Victoria Street in Lurgan, is in custody charged with attempting to murder the police officer and with possessing Semtex explosives with intent to cause an explosion or to endanger life.

He is alleged to have committed the offences outside the police officer’s home in Eglinton on 18 June of last year.

The court was told that the defendant was arrested by Gardaí in Killygordon, Co Donegal, four hours after the attempted murder bid. The car he was travelling in along with two other men had been stolen and traces of Semtex were found on his clothing and on gloves found inside the vehicle.

The defendant was later released by Gardaí and lived openly in Dundalk but he was arrested by the PSNI as he stood in Portadown railway station on 16 May of this year and he has been in custody ever since on the charges. A previous bail application by the defendant to visit his newborn son in hospital was refused by the High Court following police objections.

In court on Monday, the defendant’s solicitor said that a well-respected member of the community in Lurgan was willing to lodge a cash surety of £5,000 and was also willing to accompany him from Maghaberry Prison to the christening and back to the prison.

The solicitor told District Judge Barney McElholm that the surety was a well-known businessman in the Lurgan area and was totally apolitical.

Opposing the application, a detective constable said the defendant was a member of the Dissident Republican organisation which had claimed responsibility for the murder bid four days after the under car booby trap was found.

“He holds beliefs that put at risk anyone who works in the service of the Crown,” he told the Court.

The police witness said there was strong CCTV and forensic evidence against the defendant.

“The reason this applicant is before the Court today is because he made one big mistake by coming back to this jurisdiction earlier this year. If he had not made that mistake he may well not be before the Court at this time”, the officer said.

The District Judge said he had “an open mind” in relation to the compassionate bail application. He said it would be incongruous for someone to attend a Christian ceremony while at the same time being prepared to break a commandment of any faith in pursuit of political objectives.

“There is not one single objective in the history of the world that is worth one death,” he said.

Mr McElholm said he would rule on the compassionate bail application next Monday after the police had checked the details of the proposed surety.