Semtex component found on bomb suspect’s coat, court told

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Traces of RDX - a component of Semtex - were found on a coat worn by a Lurgan man charged with attempting to murder a police officer, a court heard yesterday.

A detective constable told Londonderry Magistrates’ Court the substance was also discovered in the footwell of a car in which defendant Sean McVeigh was travelling when it was stopped by gardai in Co Donegal.

The 35-year-old, from Victoria Street, is charged with possessing Semtex with intent to endanger life or cause damage and with the attempted murder of a police officer in relation to the discovery of a booby trap bomb under the police officer’s car in Eglinton, Co Derry, on June 18 last year.

The officer told the court that a forensic report into the traces of RDX was a Garda document, even though the actual forensic analysis was carried out in a PSNI laboratory, adding that she only had a copy of the study, not the original.

The detective constable also revealed, however, that the PSNI had, through the Public Prosecution Service, submitted an international letter of request to An Garda Siochana asking for the original report to be sent.

She said that when the original document was forwarded to the PSNI, its contents would be disclosed to the defence.

In the meantime, however, she did not have permission to disclose the material of the investigation to McVeigh’s legal team.

Solicitor Peter Corrigan, for the defendant, said the contents of the undisclosed report had been put to his client after his arrest and during a police interview, to which Mr McVeigh gave no comment.

He also explained that what was missing from the copied document was its conclusion in relation to the low levels of RDX that were found on the defendant’s coat and in the car.

Mr Corrigan said there was no mention in the investigation of an amount of RDX, which he said was a medical compound as well as being linked to Semtex.

He also claimed that the substance could have been innocently transferred onto his client and that it did not automatically link people to explosives.

The detective constable, however, told the court the RDX was not the only strand of evidence in the case. She said there was also CCTV and automatic number plate recognition.

In deciding on an application for bail, Judge Barney Mr McElholm said he had to strike a balance between the rights of the defendant - who could be in custody for up to two years before any trial - and his primary duty of protecting the public.

He adjourned the bail application until June 6 to enable the prosecution and the defence to resolve the issue of the absence of the original forensic report.

In the meantime, the defendant was remanded in continuing custody.