Northern Ireland

Paul Campbell jailed for Coalisland police station bombing

Paul Campbell Image copyright Alan Lewis-Photopress Belfast
Image caption Paul Campbell was jailed for his part in the attack on an RUC station

A County Tyrone man has been jailed for seven and a half years over a bomb attack on a Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) station more than 20 years ago.

Last month Paul Campbell, of The Mills in Coalisland, was found guilty of causing an explosion and possessing an improvised explosive device with intent to endanger life on 26 March 1997.

He had denied both offences.

The 41-year-old will be the subject of counter-terrorist provisions for the next 15 years.

It was the prosecution's case that Campbell was one of two men who carried out the 1997 attack on Coalisland RUC station, that he was shot by "undercover military operative Soldier A" as he ran off, jumped into a priest's car that was parked nearby and fled to the Republic of Ireland.

A co-accused, Gareth Doris, who was also shot in the aftermath of the bomb attack and arrested at the scene, was later convicted and sentenced to 10 years in prison.

A prosecution lawyer said blood and DNA samples found after the bomb attack matched that of Campbell.

Image copyright PAcemaker
Image caption The attack happened at Coalisland RUC station in 1997

At Belfast Crown Court on Wednesday, the prosecutor said the fact the defendant might be considered for early release under the Good Friday peace agreement "was not a matter for this court but for the parole commissioners".

The prosecutor said the aggravating factors were the charges were terrorist related and the fact Campbell fled the jurisdiction and was not arrested and charged until 2015, when he was detained by the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) after getting off a train in Portadown, County Armagh.

Another aggravating factor was the intended victims of the attack were police officers inside the heavily-fortified RUC base.

'Terrorist incident'

Passing sentence, the judge said it was likely Doris "was in possession of the device which contained between half and three quarters of a kilo of military-grade explosives and you (Campbell) provided support for him".

The judge said while Doris was shot and detained at the scene, Campbell was also shot but left Northern Ireland and was treated for his injuries.

The judge added: "I consider the aggravating feature is that this was a terrorist incident."

Taking his starting point for sentence as 10 years, the judge said he was reducing that by two-and-a-half years because of the delay in the case and the "impact this sentence will have on your children".

Speaking after Campbell was sentenced, Det Ch Insp John Caldwell said it was the culmination of a "long and complex investigation".

"It should send a clear message to those involved in violence - we will vigorously pursue those responsible to bring them before the courts to face the consequences of their actions," added the detective.

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