'Dissident note' accused refused bail

Published Friday, 13 June 2014
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A taxi driver accused of directing a dissident republican terror group must remain in custody, a High Court judge has ruled.

'Dissident note' accused refused bail
Thomas Mellon at a previous court appearance. (© UTV)

Mr Justice Treacy refused bail to Thomas Mellon after describing a note he is alleged to have written as displaying "a chilling disregard for human life".

Mellon, of Rathmore Road in Londonderry, was arrested after the letter, believed to have been smuggled into Maghaberry Prison, was seized last week.

The 38-year-old father of four denies charges of directing terrorism and membership of a proscribed organisation.

The note, written on joined up pieces of cigarette paper and wrapped in cling film, was taken from a visitor to the jail referred to as Mr O.

The court heard it contained a communication to members of the so-called New IRA being held in custody.

Among the letter's contents was reference to a guilty plea entered in a recent case and the comment: "I will not allow any dual army operating along with the IRA and us not knowing anything."

Another line stated: "If things had worked out right we would have been cheering on the army after a couple of stiffs."

This allegedly referred to attempts to kill police officers in Ardoyne, north Belfast.

It continued: "Regarding guilty pleas, people are starting to ask that we the leadership are asking POWs to plead guilty."

DNA and handwriting tests on the note backed the contention that Mellon was the author, prosecutors claimed.

Defence counsel Kieran Mallon QC insisted his client denies having written the letter.

He also disputed that the contents justified a charge of directing terrorism.

"The document is perhaps a critique or a commentary an issue of potential plea bargaining," he said.

"There's also reference to a prospective funeral arrangements for an individual who is ill."

Dealing with points about Mellon remaining seated and refusing to confirm his details at a previous court hearing, the barrister argued that it was no basis for linking him to terrorist activity.

"His attitude to the authorities might not necessarily find support within those members of the PSNI or any other body with regard to the attitude to court proceedings," he said.

"But an individual's principle stance of itself should not be used to shore up any suggestion that he would involve himself in acts of terrorism."

However, Mr Justice Treacy ruled that bail should be refused.

He said: "There is strong prima facie evidence of (potential) further offending of the gravest kind."

© UTV News
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