A Keady man has been remanded in custody after appearing in court charged with a number of explosives offences linked to a series of security alerts in County Armagh.
Newry Magistrates’ Court today (Monday) heard that while police believe 40-year-old is responsible for making the explosive devices, he does not have any paramilitary links and no motive has been identified.
Joseph Kevin Markey, of Tassagh Road, appeared in court, via videolink from police custody, facing a total of 14 charges.
The charges include: two counts of driving whilst disqualified; two counts of using a vehicle without insurance; two counts of taking a vehicle without authority; four counts of making explosives under suspicious circumstances; two counts of causing an explosion likely to endanger life; and two counts of attempting to cause an explosion likely to endanger life.
The charges arise following security alerts in the Castleblayney Road area of Keady, the Newtown Road area of Camlough and the Maghery Road area of Craigavon.
During a contested bail application, Detective Constable Cairns outlined that in the first incident on March 12, a member of the public reported hearing a “loud bang” and at 5am officers discovered damage to the Castleblayney Road which was “consistent with an explosion”.
A device consisting of a beer keg, a car battery, fertiliser and diesel was also uncovered and the officer said the other three devices, one of which partially exploded, all had a similar construction.
The detective claimed that police enquires had traced Markey to the purchase of four car batteries from Halfords in Armagh on March 1 while there were alleged sightings of Markey, driving his father’s car, at the various locations at the relevant times.
He revealed that the defendant’s father is a resident in a nursing home so police “do not believe he would have the necessary capacity to give permission” for his son to drive his VW Passat.
During a search of Markey’s home, the officer stated that “all components necessary” to make the explosive devices where located, adding that the defendant “retains the skill set” to make more devices.
In an email address, which Markey acknowledged to be his, police also located a receipt from Halfords relating to the purchase of car batteries.
DC Cairn stated: “He has placed four viable devices in locations with no regard to the safety of members of the public.”
Adding that with no motivation identified for making the bombs, Markey “could hold ambitions to carry out further attacks”.
Prosecution described the lack of motivation for the attacks as “all the more disturbing”.
He also told court that the car batteries were used as timers for the devices but in such a way that no one, not even the bomb maker, would know when it was going to explode.
Prosecution also submitted that “the bombs are becoming more sophisticated, or he is trying to improve his technique”.
Outlining objections to bail, the officer stated that there was a fear that the defendant would abscond as he had “ties to the Republic of Ireland”.
Under cross examination from defence solicitor Jarlath Fields, the Detective agreed that Markey had no history of absconding and nothing of a terrorist nature on his criminal record.
He also agreed that Markey claimed there were beer kegs at his home which he had obtained from a family member who owns, or did own, a pub in the Republic of Ireland.
Mr Fields submitted that “the main evidence is the purchase of the car batteries”, adding that items which were located at the defendant’s address were not “prohibited” – being fertilizer and diesel.
He also commented that his client’s criminal record did not establish a risk of further offences, however, prosecution argued “this isn’t an isolated incident and I suggest it would’ve continued if he had not been stopped”.
Deputy District Judge John Rea stated: “The defendant is accused of very serious offences, there are several incidents and I am entirely satisfied that there is evidence to connect.
“It is suspected this is an act which would be continued and there is a continued risk of further offences… there is also a risk he could abscond given his contacts in the Republic of Ireland”.
Rejecting bail, Judge Rea said that there were “no conditions that would adequately manage these risks”.
Markey was remanded into custody and the case was adjourned to Armagh Magistrates’ Court in April 20.