A man police claim is an “active member of a service unit for the IRA” allegedly targeting police officers was granted bail today (Monday, March 12).
Despite police objections at Lisburn Magistrates Court that 47-year-old Damien Duffy was “highly likely” to commit further offences or abscond to the Republic of Ireland if freed, District Judge Hamill said given the fact his two co-accused have been released, he would grant bail but with numerous conditions.
The judge warned however that the prosecution “have a four hour window” to decide whether to appeal his ruling at the High Court.
Duffy, whose address was given as Westclare Court in Dungannon and who is a brother of prominent republicans Colin Duffy, is on remand at Maghaberry prison where he faces a charge of preparation of terrorist acts, namely targeting a former member of the security forces, in September 2016.
Facing the same offence are Lurgan men Ciaran Magee, 24, from Lake Street and Shea Reynolds, 22, from the Kilwilkie Road, both of whom have been granted bail.
Giving evidence to the court today a Detective sergeant described how police launched a lengthy covert surveillance operation in the Lurgan area, at the end of which they uncovered a camera which had been recording footage at the home of a retired police officer and on a road routinely used by officers going to and from Cookstown PSNI station.
He said the investigation “centres around the New IRA” in Craigavon and Coalisland and that police believe Duffy is an “active member of a service unit for the IRA... and was involved in attempting to gather information of potential targets and victims.”
The DS told the court that on a memory card recovered from inside the camera, set to take 20 second videos and with a movement sensor, officers found 200 video clips including a number which recorded Duffy himself and the inside of his home.
Arrested on 21 September and interviewed over five days, Duffy “chose to remain silent,” said the officer.
Asked by Judge Hamill what distinguishes Duffy from his co-accused, the DS claimed there was “a stronger case perhaps” against him, adding that given the support network for such an organisation, he may abscond to RoI.
Defence barrister Sean Devine highlighted, however, that previously, Duffy had twice been granted compassionate bail with no problems and had been on bail for 20 months for a more serious offence which he was ultimately acquitted of, again with no issues or breaches.
Judge Hamill said he would release Duffy on his own bail of £500 with a £2,000 cash surety along with numerous conditions which bar Duffy from contacting his co-accused, entering Lurgan, being in a private vehicle other than that of his partner and from owning or using a mobile phone.
The judge also ordered him to reside at his home address, to keep a curfew, report to police three times a week and to be electronically tagged.