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Five men accused of petrol bomb offences in connection to Lurgan riots to face Crown Court

Police checkpoint night

Five Co. Armagh men who are accused of offences relating to petrol bombs and riotously assembling will face Crown Court proceedings later this year.

The men, who face the charges in connection to rioting in Lurgan last August, all appeared at Craigavon Magistrates’ Court on Friday for the purposes of a preliminary enquiry (PE), the legal process during which a case is referred to the higher court.

All of the defendants are alleged to have “riotously assembled together” on August 23, of last year.

Diarmuid McKee, 26, of Deeny Drive in Lurgan, and Gavin McKenna, 37, of Victoria Gardens,  face a single further charge of throwing a petrol bomb.

Mark Anthony Reynolds, 47, of Ennis Green, Lurgan, and Niall Reynolds, 30, of Woodside Green in Portadown, are charged with two counts of throwing a petrol bomb.

Meanwhile Robert Rooney, 53, of Victoria Street in Lurgan, along with Mark Reynolds and McKenna face a further charge of possession of petrol bomb under suspicious circumstances.

At a previous bail application, Constable Mack said he believed he could connect the accused to their respective offences and described how police were “lured” towards an incident involving a hijacking and a bomb hoax.

The officers were then attacked by a group of males who had used a ladder to climb onto the roof of a pensioner’s bungalow from where they launched petrol bombs.

The court heard that one of the incendiary devices, allegedly lobbed over a hedge by Niall Reynolds, struck a signpost and that if it had not done so, it would have landed on the head of an officer.

The car, said the officer, was “engulfed in flames….any innocent bystander would have been severely injured or killed.”

He claimed that of the four, McKenna was the only one not recorded actually touching a petrol bomb but the officer further claimed he “is the orchestrator of it” in that he told the others where they were, helped retrieve the ladder to get up on the roof and “engages with the people working on the petrol bombs.”

At Craigavon Magistrates’ on Friday, all five men made no objection to the holding of a preliminary enquiry.

Prosecution submitted that based on the papers before the court there was a prima facie case to answer.

Defence counsel made no contrary submissions.

District Judge Bernie Kelly, satisfied there was a prima facie case to answer, released the defendants on continuing bail to appear before Belfast Crown Court on a date to be fixed.

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