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DCI John Caldwell attempted murder accused fails in latest bail bid

One of the seven men charged with attempting to murder Detective Chief Inspector John Caldwell has been refused bail again.

Omagh men Jonathon McGinty (28) from St Julian’s Downs, Gavin Coyle (45) from Mullaghmore Drive; Robert McLean (28) and James Ivor McLean (72) and Alan McFarland (47) of all Deverney Park, along with Matthew Joseph McLean (33) of Glenpark Road, Gortin and Brian Carron (38) of Claremount Drive, Coalisland are collectively charged with attempting to murder of DCI Caldwell on February 22.

Another three, James McSorley (58) from Chichester Mews, Belfast, John Gallagher (45) from Church Drive, Newtownabbey and Tony Thomas Slevin (47) from Derryloughan Road, Coalisland are charged with preparing for acts of terrorism in relation to a Ford Fiesta allegedly used in the attack.

Lawyers for McGinty mounted a fresh bail application at Dungannon Magistrates’ Court today (Friday) having previously been refused.

An earlier hearing was told two men wearing waterproof clothing arrived at Youth Sport in Omagh, and shot DCI Caldwell multiple times.

The Fiesta was found on fire and the following day a vehicle “of a similar age and colour” was reported on fire in Ardboe.

It is believed McGinty drove a Mercedes vehicle in the aftermath of the attack, travelled to Ivor McLean’s address where two people got out.

Five minutes later the Mercedes drove to Matthew McLean’s home before returning to Deverney Park and police believe this was “the clean-up operation.”

When arrested McGinty claimed not to have a phone but one was found in a backpack and another hidden under his bed.

Opposing bail prosecution counsel said: “The firearms in this matter were used previously between 2019 and 2022 showing those involved have resources to hide and conceal weapons, which were then used in significant crime. There is a real and sinister threat to security services. This is a diverse group throughout Northern Ireland creating unmanageable risk … Efforts were made to erase and dispose of CCTV footage. This defendant hid two phones and has not assisted police in any way with access codes.”

A defence barrister stated: “A chill factor is being imposed by the prosecution regarding the severity and gravity of the offence. They are asking the court to subvert the presumption of innocence.”

He continued: “[McGinty’s family] has no history in paramilitary activity. This is not what they are used to and they are carrying a significant emotional weight … evidence against my client is incredibly weak. There’s no DNA. One trace of Cartridge Discharged Residue was found in his car weeks later so forensics are not worthy of consideration or to be relied upon. …. The prosecution are trying to say my client is a sophisticated terrorist. In reality CCTV shows a vehicle registered to him in numerous places around Omagh. If someone was engaging in something as nefarious and as profound as this, one might try to be elusive or somewhat sneaky about being caught on CCTV.”

District Judge Michael Ranaghan enquired if McGinty has considered providing phone access codes which may assist in bail, but the defence replied: “I have no instructions on that.”

Throwing out the application, Judge Ranaghan, said: “This is a significant and complex investigation involving one of the most serious offences to come before the court. It will take time. Based on what is before there is a case against the defendant. This is not a case of using flimsy strands to make a flimsy rope. These are terrorist offences in nature. The mindset of those involved brings a presumption of potential reoffending. The defendant’s attitude so far is perhaps indicative to his mindset and I refuse bail.”

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