Derry man guilty of foiled mortar attack

Derry man guilty of foiled mortar attack

A dissident republican has pleaded guilty to charges related to a foiled mortar bomb attack on a police station in Londonderry last year.

Seamus McLaughlin of Eastway Gardens in the Creggan estate, appeared handcuffed in the dock of Belfast Crown Court.The 36-year-old's counsel, Kieran Mallon QC, asked Belfast Recorder Judge David McFarland that McLaughlin be re-arraigned on a number of charges.McLaughlin pleaded guilty to having "ready to deploy" four improvised mortars and an improvised explosive incendiary device with intent to endanger life on 3 March 2013.He also pleaded guilty to possessing a Citroen Berlingo for the purposes of the commission, preparation or instigation in an act of terrorism.Crown lawyer David Russell said: "In light of the guilty pleas, the prosecution ask that the conspiracy charges be left on the books."A pre-sentence report was ordered but Belfast Recorder Judge David McFarland told his counsel: "If he makes a statement he could be called as a witness (in a forthcoming trial) and so could the probation officer."However, Mr Mallon QC replied: "It is my experience in cases with these type of offences that the probation staff do not inquire into them."McLaughlin was remanded back into custody to await sentence.The non-jury Diplock trial of a second defendant, 37-year-old Gary McDaid, of Glenowen Park, Derry, who is on bail charged with having explosives with intent to endanger life and having them in suspicious circumstances, is due to start this September.No details were given of the nature of the offences which McLaughlin pleaded guilty to on Thursday.However, in January this year during a successful compassionate bail application by McLaughlin, a prosecution lawyer told Belfast Crown Court that the defendant was the driver of a white Citroen Berlingo van which police believe was driving in convoy with a motor cycle which was allegedly driven by McDaid.The court heard that the van had travelled a short distance along the Letterkenny Road before it was stopped by the police.During the hearing the prosecution lawyer described how the van's roof had been cut open and the hole covered with tape.In the rear of the vehicle, he said, police found four mortar tubes, loaded and ready to fire and connected to a timing mechanism in the front seat.Another explosive device was also found in the foot-well of the vehicle which the prosecution claimed, was designed to explode once the mortars had been fired in order to destroy the vehicle and any possible evidence.


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