Northern Ireland

Joseph Pearce accused of supplying information to Continuity IRA

High Court
Image caption Joseph Pearce appeared at the High Court on Monday

A man allegedly supplied dissident republicans with information on where a prison officer goes rambling with his children, the High Court has heard.

Joseph Pearce, 45, from Clogharevan Park in Bessbrook, County Armagh was refused bail.

He is charged with two counts of collecting information likely to be of use to terrorists.

Mr Pearce was allegedly referred to by a co-accused as providing a "world of information" on potential targets.

He was one of a number of men arrested after a house at Ardcarn Park was raided on 10 November after being bugged by MI5 for three months.

Seven other men have already been charged with a range of terrorist offences based on this evidence.

The court was told that at the meetings, weapons and procuring explosives, fund-raising, making and transporting a bomb and potential police and prison officer targets, were also discussed.

According to the prosecution Mr Pearce attended just one of the bugged meetings, held in October.

'World of information'

The court heard that before he arrived, co-accused Patrick Joseph Blair was recorded phoning and asking him to join the group.

Mr Blair, 59 of Villas Park, Dundalk, was remanded last month charged with directing terrorism and membership of a proscribed organisation.

Prosecution counsel said Mr Blair could be heard telling others in the house that Pearce was a "world of information".

It was claimed that he said: "He (Mr Pearce) must've given us about four different cops, five cops, the governor, that Brit."

Mr Blair allegedly went on to claim that he was able to provide details of a specific police officer that enabled reconnaissance to be carried out.

Pet shop

Less than 20 minutes later Mr Pearce arrived at the house and imparted a range of information during ongoing talks, according to the prosecution.

Mr Justice Treacy was told the group discussed a pet shop in Belfast frequented by loyalist paramilitaries.

Mr Pearce then allegedly described the location of a businessman's home he had visited, the ease with which entry could be gained, the occupant's obvious wealth and vulnerability to coercion and robbery.

"He also tells how he was recently passing the college near Jordanstown, saw numerous British soldiers in uniform standing outside and described how they would be 'such a handy touch'," the prosecution lawyer said.

During the conversation it was claimed that he also named a man who recently joined the Army, giving details on where he lives.

Loyalists suspected of laundering drug money were also referred to, the court heard.

On being prompted, Mr Pearce allegedly then named a prison officer and described in detail his routine and leisure habits.

"He goes on to outline the address of a home of a relative who the prison officer often visits and how he goes rambling with his children from the address," the prosecutor said.

Opposing bail, she argued that even if he is not accused of taking part in terrorist activities, he has supplied information to facilitate others.

The court heard police plan to speak with two of the individuals named in the conversations within the next few days.

Defence lawyers contended, however, that Mr Pearce is accused of playing a lesser role than the others charged.

His barrister also claimed some of the allegations against his client were based on potentially exaggerated hearsay evidence from Mr Blair.

But refusing bail, Mr Justice Treacy pointed out that Mr Pearce is alleged to have been "an enthusiastic provider of information".

He added: "It goes without saying in the context of this case, and the ongoing terrorist campaign being conducted by dissident organisations, that these are very serious charges."