Northern Ireland

Bail denied for man on terrorism charge

A man has appeared at Belfast Court charged with conspiring to wound with intent, causing grievous bodily harm and possessing articles for use in terrorism on Wednesday.

Robert O'Neill, 33, from Bingnian Drive Belfast, denied the charges. He was refused bail.

It is alleged that four men claiming to be from Oglaigh na h Eireann shot a man in the leg.

The men are alleged to have intimidated a teenager who had taken away the gun.

The judge, Mr Justice Hart, said there was a prima facie case that the men who came to the victims house were from a terrorist organisation.

He said: "What we have here is four people from a terrorist organisation forcing their will in a familiar pattern to knee-cap someone and there is a clear risk of further offending."

The court heard the teenagers family moved out of their west Belfast home after their son, who had taken away the firearms, had co-operated with police inquiries.

Attention

The prosecution lawyer, Philip Henry said it was understood the kneecap shooting was a punishment shooting attack, but that the motivation was not known.

Mr Henry said the men made their way to the Bog Meadows where the 16-year-old was handed a bag containing two guns.

There was helicopter surveillance and the men were seen getting into a car which was stopped by police on the Falls Road where the teen was also stopped.

"A significant concern on the part of police is that following the account given by the young man his family has experienced some negative attention," said Mr Henry.

"There were two suspicious fires at the family home and then a man came to the rear of the house and argued with members of the family about why their house had been targeted."

Mr Henry said shortly afterwards the teenagers younger brother was taken away in a car by masked men and subjected to a beating.

"He phoned his father and when he arrived he was told by the masked men that his other son should withdraw his evidence," said the lawyer.

Mr Henry said the father had been told that his son should withdraw his evidence following the first remand hearing.

"So police are concerned at the risk of interference with the teenager and his family and also the injured party and his partner."

Mr Henry added: "There have been a number of dissident republican attacks in that area of Belfast in recent times and that increases the risk of the applicant re-offending and and the risk of interference."

Defence counsel Joe Brolly said there was no identification evidence against Mr O'Neill and there was a vital gap in the "heli-teli" evidence as the tape was being changed at the time.

"There is nothing in this man's background to suggest that he was involved in any act of intimidation," he said.

Mr Justice Hart said there was a prima facie case that the men who came to the house were from a terrorist organisation, he denied bail.