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Keady man linked to series of Co Armagh security alerts granted bail – but not released

Keady man charged with a number of explosives offences, linked to a series of security alerts in County Armagh dating back to last year, has been granted bail.

Although, having been granted bail by the district judged, due to delays in the case, the 42-year-old was not released as the prosecution said they intend to appeal the decision.

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 in relation to 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.

At a previous bail application hearing, 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 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, District Judge Bernie Kelly stated that delay was the “chief reason” the case had been listed for a bail application, noting that forensic reports had not met deadlines in November and December.

Objecting to the application, Detective Constable Cairns informed the judge that all outstanding forensic evidence had now been received.

District Judge Kelly commented that Markey had spent almost a year in custody, the equivalent of a two year sentence.

Outlining objections, the constable stated that the defendant had strong ties to the Republic of Ireland.

Court heard Markey that had family, rented land , had a bank account and had previously worked in the Republic of Ireland.

Detective Constable Cairns voiced police concerns given that the proposed address was just seven miles from the border.

He continued stating that police were concerned Markey would continued to offend as he had shown “no remorse” and no motivation had been identified so there was a fear he would continue.

Defence barrister Joe McCann asked the officer if he was aware of an offer of employment to the defendant.

He replied that police had yet to check this but would be concerned over how Markey planned to attend given that this was in Belfast.

Mr McCann submitted that this was a “circumstantial case” with his client having nothing of this nature on his record, he added that a cash surety of £2,000 could also be made available.

Asked about the forensic evidence, the constable outlined that this linked the devices to the vehicle Markey was detected driving but admitted there was no direct link to the defendant.

On balance District Judge Kelly granted Markey his own bail of  £500 with a £2,000 cash surety. Conditions included; an electronic tag, a curfew and a prohibition on alcohol.

However, the prosecution made court aware of their wish to appeal this decision and the defendant was remanded in custody.

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