Compassionate bail turned down

Sean McVeigh.   Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Sean McVeigh. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker

A man accused of planting a bomb under a police officer’s car received bullets in the post warning him he was a “dead man walking”, the High Court heard today (Thursday, November 10).

Letters delivered to Sean McVeigh’s family home also declared an intention to shoot on sight, prosecutors revealed.

Details emerged as a judge overturned a decision to grant compassionate bail for the 35-year-old to attend the christening of his new-born child.

McVeigh, of Victoria Street in Lurgan, Co Armagh, faces charges of attempted murder and possessing explosives with intent to endanger life.

The alleged offences relate to the discovery of a bomb underneath a policeman’s car in Eglinton, Co Londonderry on June 18 last year.

The target’s wife, also a serving PSNI officer, woke in the middle of the night to discover a man planting the viable device, a previous court heard.

The would-be bomber fled after she hammered on the bedroom window.

A circumstantial case allegedly links McVeigh and two other men to the terrorist attack.

They were arrested by gardai who stopped a Volkswagen Passat later the same night across the border in Co Donegal, but released unconditionally after clothing was taken for forensic examination.

McVeigh was said to have remained in the Irish Republic until detained by the PSNI at Portadown train station in May this year.

Tests revealed a low amount of explosive component on the clothing that had been seized from him, it was alleged.

Prosecutors contend there is material pointing to him being the person who actually placed the device.

Earlier this week a District Judge granted compassionate bail for McVeigh to attend the christening service in Craigavon later this month.

But the prosecution appealed his temporary release, citing fears he could flee.

Concerns were also raised for the safety of an associate of McVeigh’s who was prepared to put up a £5,000 cash surety and accompany him to the event.

Prosecution counsel disclosed that the defendant received threats in two letters containing .22 bullets sent back in March 2015.

Referring to the second message, the barrister said: “The wording stated: Sean McVeigh, you’re a dead man walking. Shoot on sight.”

With investigations into the threats continuing, Mr Justice Burgess was told police have concerns about protecting the safety of members of the public connected to the accused.

Dessie Hutton, defending, stressed his client was only seeking out of custody for four hours.

He rejected any suggestions of an “audacious” attempt on the life of the surety while in McVeigh’s company for that period.

However, the judge denied release from custody due to the risk of flight.

Mr Justice Burgess confirmed: “For that reason I’m going to allow the appeal and refused compassionate bail, which I don’t do lightly.”