A Keady man charged with a number of explosives offences linked to a series of security alerts in County Armagh in March of last year has been granted bail subject to conditions being met.
The 42-year-old was granted bail subject to him proving that his original address was still available to him and having a “clear out of sheds” at the property with items placed in a secure location.
Joseph Kevin Markey, of Tassagh Road, appeared before Armagh Magistrates’ Court, sitting at Newry, for the purposes of a bail application on Tuesday via videolink from Maghaberry.
The defendant is in custody on foot of a total of 14 charges, namely: 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 between March 1 and 26, of last year.
Updating the court on progress, Detective Constable Cairns stated that he would be submitting the file, however, there was an outstanding “disclosure issue” which he believed was “essential”.
At a previous bail application, the same constable 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 were 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.
Speaking on Tuesday, defence barrister Joseph McCann outlined how District Judge Bernie Kelly had previously granted bail to his client back in January, but this was overturned by a judge at the High Court in Belfast following an appeal being lodged by the Prosecution Service.
He stated that lack of progress in the case had prompted this bail application and that a new address was being put forward for Markey to reside at, but this was objected to by police.
Objecting to the defendant’s release, Detective Constable Cairns said there was a fear that Markey would fail to surrender, due to his ties to the Republic of Ireland.
He outlined that the defendant lived seven miles from the border, had a bank account in the Republic, owned land there and had close acquaintances across the border.
The constable stated police were concerned there was a risk of further offences, given the allegations and the fact that no motive has been established.
Objecting to the new address proffered by the defence, the constable told court that two persons currently on bail reside at the same property.
Mr McCann commented that he accepted the issues in relation to this address but added it was open to the court to grant bail subject to a suitable address.
He stated: “The main issue here is delay. He has now been in custody almost a calendar year…..the arraignment is also unlikely to take place before the summer at which point he will have served the equivalent of a three year sentence.”
Commenting that bail was a “balancing exercise”, District Judge Kelly stated: “If he is convicted of these charges he will serve a much longer period in custody, if not he had already spent more time in custody that the Crown Court can sentence him to for the remaining charges.”
The district judge accepted the objections to the new address but stated she was “never a fan” of granting bail subject to an address.
Markey was granted bail subject to him proving that his original address was still available to him and having a “clear out of sheds” at the property with items placed in a secure location.
Conditions of this bail included; a £2,000 cash surety, an electronic tag, an 8pm to 6am curfew, not to leave Northern Ireland, an alcohol prohibition, to surrender his passports and to sign at a police station three times a week.
The case was adjourned until April 12 for an update.