Lurgan dissident accused granted bail

Damien Duffy. INLM28-007
Damien Duffy. INLM28-007
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An alleged ringleader in a dissident republican plot to kill a prison governor, his officers and a police officer has been granted bail.

District Judge Mervyn Bates told 48-year-old Paul John Duffy that before being released on his own bail of £5,000, he must first find an address which the police approve of.

Duffy, a brother of leading republican Colin Duffy, was barred from certain areas of Lurgan and Craigavon where police allege attacks were planned, ordered to surrender his passport, report to police four times a week and observe a curfew between 11pm and 6am.

The Craigavon Magistrates’ Court judge had earlier heard a prosecution barrister allege that Duffy, from Ailsbury Gardens in Lurgan, was “actively involved” in a conspiracy to kill members of the security forces, a prison governor and to cause an explosion.

Along with his brother Damien Duffy, 42, and their cousin Shane Duffy, 41, the trio face charges relating to preparing acts of terrorism, conspiring to murder and conspiring with each other to cause an explosion.

It is also alleged that the three collected information “with the intention of committing acts of terrorism” and with collecting information likely to be of use to terrorists with all the offences alleged to have occurred in dates between 7 June 2011 and 14 May 2012.

Paul Duffy faces a further charge that on dates between 29 November, 2009 and 14 May last year, he directed the activities of a terrorist grouping, namely a dissident republican grouping.

However if committed for trial at the Crown Court, that charge is likely to be dropped, a lawyer told the court.

On Tuesday the court heard that in a joint covert operation between the police and security forces, they gathered evidence that the three were planning to cause an explosion and had “actively targeted” a police officer, two prison officers and a prison governor.

The lawyer outlined how two Ford cars were involved in what she described as “recce” operations where on numerous occasions and with Paul Duffy driving every time, the cars did “drive bys” at houses belonging to members of the security forces with one such “recce” lasting almost nine hours and involved seemingly pointless manoeuvres in rural locations.

She claimed that the surveillance operation, coupled with covert audio recordings, was able to pin point where the respective cars were when certain comments were made.

Quoting from those secret recordings, the lawyer recounted how the alleged terrorists were heard planning where to plant a bomb and from which point they could shoot at their intended targets, telling the court how they talked about having a “line of sight” and having a “direct line to hit it”.

She added that a conversation about “getting the angles right, exposed ground and breaking cover is considered to be particularly sinister”.

The lawyer said the police were “strongly objecting” to bail amid fears that Duffy would reoffend or would use the “support network” behind dissident republican organisations to flee the jurisdiction.

She revealed that in 1988, Paul Duffy was jailed for 15 years after Craigavon RUC station was subjected to a bomb and gun attack, adding that “there are concerns that there is a significant risk to members of the public and security forces”.

Defence QC Mark Mulholland argues that with no realistic prospect of the case come to trial this year, along with the presumption of innocence, Duffy will have spent an inordinate period in custody with a Crown case based on “innuendo, assumption and speculation”.

He submitted that Damien Duffy had been released on High Court bail last month and that there were “no material differences” between the pair.

Granting bail, Judge Bates said the “groundwork had been laid” by the High Court in Damien Duffy’s case and as he could find no “demonstrable differences” in the cases, he was granting bail to Paul Duffy.

He warned him however that any breach of any condition would “run the risk of you being put back into custody again”.