Tandragee petrol bomb attack '˜linked to drugs dispute'

A petrol bomb attack on a flat in Co Armagh is linked to a long-running dispute over drugs, the High Court has heard.

Wednesday, 14th December 2016, 3:56 pm
Updated Thursday, 15th December 2016, 11:22 am

Prosecutors said the victim had already been targeted up to four times before masked men launched the device at his home in Tandragee last week.

Details emerged as one of three men accused of the attack was granted bail.

Stuart Neville, 39, of Cusher Green in Mountnorris, faces charges of arson, throwing and possessing a petrol bomb in suspicious circumstances, and attempted intimidation.

He was arrested along with his co-accused after a high-speed, late-night pursuit on December 7.

Crown lawyer Robin Steer said an off-duty police officer spotted men wearing balaclavas hurling a petrol bomb at the Market Street flat from a Volkwagen Polo.

The device set fire to an area near the exit to the property occupied by a man in his 20s.

Mr Steer said the Volkswagen was then pursued at speeds of up to 80mph before coming to a halt in Waringstown.

A bottle containing flammable liquid was found inside the vehicle.

All three suspects were detained short distances away.

Police are not linking the attack to any paramilitary organisation.

Mr Steer said: “There’s been a history of disputes between people connected to the drugs trade in Tandragee going on for 18 months.”

The court was told of four previous incidents since September involving men bursting into properties associated with the alleged victim.

On one occasion they entered the neighbouring home of a family by mistake.

“It’s a dispute between people involved in drugs,” Mr Steer added.

Defence counsel insisted there is no evidence to connect Neville to the petrol bombing.

He also contended that witness descriptions of the men wearing balaclavas do not match his client.

Granting bail, Mr Justice Treacy banned Neville from entering Tandragee.

The judge also ordered him to have no contact with the alleged victim or his co-accused.