A Co Armagh man accused of being a member of New IRA has been granted bail to attend his son’s confirmation on Wednesday.
Shea Reynolds, of Kilwilke Road in Lurgan, is currently in prison awaiting trial on a set of charges which date back to September 2016.
The court also heard that the 29-year-old , while on bail, was re-arrested in August 2020, following an MI5 operation into the activities of the New IRA – codenamed Arbacia – in a village outside Omagh.
The prosecution outlined how Reynolds was allegedly caught on video and audio during a meeting at a cottage in Sixmilecross. Those latest set of charges include conspiracy to possess Semtex explosives to endanger life and intending to commit acts of terrorism through attending the meeting.
On Friday, Reynolds’ defence solicitor asked Belfast Crown Court for his client to be released for a four hour period on April 26, adding that he would be chaperoned at all times by a solicitor. He also confirmed that a friend, who was in the court building, was willing to offer up a £10,000 cash surety.
The solicitor contended that his client has twice before been released on compassionate bail, in order to attend the birth of his son, and subsequent Christening two months later.
He added: “He was granted permission to go to Spain on a two-week holiday in June 2019. He was given permission to go on a weekend break to Donegal in July 2019. And there was permission given to go to Glasgow, and I recall one occasion, Liverpool, with his son in order to attend at football matches.
“On each occasion, the applicant went on those trips, and came back again. There was no history of him not reporting to police or not appearing for court, or anything of that nature.”
The solicitor pointed out that since his re-arrest in 2020, Reynolds has not been out of custody – some 33 months.
“The only contact the applicant has had with family is through telephone calls and prison visits, which does enhance the importance of the applicant wanting to attend at the ceremony, where his son has requested his presence, and requested in fact, that that he be a sponsor,” he said.
A prosecution solicitor argued that none of Reynolds’ releases have been granted after his bail was revoked on August 27, 2020, with one compassionate bail application to attend the birth of his child denied.
The prosecution insisted that the set of charges are of a “very serious” nature and that risk of absconding and re-offending must be considered, as well as protecting the public.
Her Honour Judge Patricia Smyth KC requested to hear evidence from the solicitor – Gavin Booth – who would be acting as a chaperone for Reynolds on the day.
Mr Booth said he would only offer “to do this with people that I would trust would come back and forward and would be no threat to me or others”.
He added: “Mr. Reynolds has been a client of our firm since its inception, and then prior to that in the previous firm. So again, I’d be fully confident that he’s given me an undertaking that he will return and he knows the ramifications if he doesn’t.
“I would have no problem attending Mass in Lurgan and staying with him at all times. I know his children and I have met his partner numerous times and I don’t feel that I would be under threat in any way and I don’t feel that any circumstances would arise that would make me feel uncomfortable.
“I would stay with him at all times and, further to that, I would make sure he’s back. But I wouldn’t offer this service if I didn’t believe that he would abide by all the conditions and go straight there and back.”
Judge Smyth commented: “I have heard evidence from a solicitor who is an officer of the court and who has obligations to this court and I satisfied on balance, that the risks to the public can be reduced for a period of four hours in the following circumstances.
“The solicitor is to be with the defendant at all times. He is to ensure that no mobile phone is used by the defendant and the surety of £10,000 is to be lodged in court.
“Mr. booth if the defendant attempts to use your mobile phone, or in any other way, and suggests that he is not abiding by the terms of this bail, you’re under the obligation to contact the police and the onus would be on you to ensure that the risks identified are reduced on the basis I’ve set out, so I’ll ask you to bear that in mind as a solicitor of this court.”
Bail was granted.