Northern Ireland

Bomb 'planned for Londonderry hotel police recruitment event'

The scene of the security alert at the Waterfoot Hotel
Image caption The Waterfoot Hotel in Londonderry was targeted in October ahead of a police recruitment day

A bomb discovered near a Londonderry hotel was to be smuggled inside before a police recruitment event, the High Court in Belfast has heard.

Prosecutors claimed two men made a 140-mile road trip to leave explosives concealed in a fire extinguisher among undergrowth close to the venue.

The alleged plan was to later move the device to the Waterfoot Hotel.

Details emerged as bail was refused to one of two men accused of bringing the bomb parts across the Irish border.

Charges

Darren Poleon, 41, of Drumbaragh in Kells, County Meath, is charged with preparing an act of terrorism.

He is also charged with conspiracy to cause an explosion, and possessing an improvised explosive device with intent to endanger life or cause damage to property.

Co-accused Brian Walsh, 34, of Dunshaughlin in County Meath, is charged with the same offences.

A prosecution lawyer said the pair were in a car stopped by police in Omagh three days before the bomb was discovered.

They claimed to be in Northern Ireland to buy an engine, the court heard.

Reservation

Officers found a rucksack, bolt cutters, walkie-talkies, binoculars, a head torch, toy gun, latex gloves, wigs and a fake beard inside the vehicle.

At that stage the two men were arrested on suspicion of going equipped for theft, but later released on bail.

However, this changed after the explosives were found on 9 October, the prosecution barrister said.

"The police view is the device was at a transit location - it was to be moved closer or within the hotel prior to the PSNI recruitment event to take place the following day," she said.

Examination of the satellite navigation system in the car the two men were in revealed it travelled from County Meath to the "destination" at a roundabout near the Waterfoot Hotel, the court heard.

It also contained an address for Belfast Metropolitan College, where a similar police meeting was to be held, the prosecutor said.

The barrister said a reservation at the hotel for the night before the police event was made using Mr Poleon's name, but no one turned up for the booking.

'Weak circumstantial case'

A defence lawyer said the case against his client was "replete with speculation", with no DNA or fingerprint evidence linking him to the scene of the bomb find.

He also disputed allegations about the sat nav and hotel reservation.

Arguing that that the device could have been left in the undergrowth a month previously, he added: "It's a very weak circumstantial case."

Items found in Mr Poleon's car were only Halloween garments, a plastic cowboy gun and a child's walkie-talkie belonging to his son, he said.

However, the judge refused bail, saying there was prima facie evidence of involvement in a "very sophisticated and clearly terrorist-type operation.

"The circumstances and nature of the alleged offence raises real risks there will be further offending."

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