Car bomb accused convicted of murder bid on police officer

A police Land Rover at the scene of the attempted murder in 2015 Image copyright Pacemaker
Image caption A bomb was discovered under a police officer's car in Eglinton in 2015

A County Armagh man accused of planting a bomb under the car of an off-duty policeman has been found guilty of attempted murder.

Sean McVeigh, 38, of Victoria Street, Lurgan, denied two charges connected to the murder bid in Eglinton, County Londonderry, on 18 June 2015.

He was convicted of having an under-vehicle improvised explosive device.

The judge said it was a "well thought out, planned terrorist plot" against a police officer.

He said the device was "an elaborate one, carefully constructed to ensure maximum damage".

The judge said he was sure the device was intended to kill anyone who was unfortunate enough to get inside the car and drive it.

He added that he was "satisfied beyond reasonable doubt" that McVeigh had been the person who planted the device.

Image copyright PAcemaker
Image caption Sean McVeigh, pictured in 2014, has been found guilty of attempted murder

During the trial, the prosecution argued that McVeigh was part of a joint enterprise with others to try and kill the police officer by planting the device under his car.

The officer's wife, who was a serving police officer at the time, told detectives she was asleep but woke up and looked out of her bedroom window.

She spoke of her "sheer disbelief" on seeing a "skinny man" attaching to the car what turned out to be an explosive device.

'Really excessive speed'

She added that she was "so shocked" she rapped so hard on the bedroom window that it "bruised" her knuckles.

The man, her statement added, "must have croaked himself" because he immediately "legged it... took to his heels" down the driveway and went into a waiting car.

The court heard that she immediately rang the police, who dispatched three vehicles to the scene.

During the trial, the court also heard from a police officer who was on patrol in the early hours of the day in question and was instructed to set up a checkpoint on the Foyle Bridge.

Image copyright PAcemaker

The constable said he and another patrol vehicle were in the process of setting up the checkpoint when they heard cars approaching from the Waterside.

"I stepped out into the middle of the road with my torch. I then realised the vehicles were travelling at a really, really excessive speed and I was not going to be able to stop them so I stepped off the road," he said.

He confirmed to the court that both vehicles made no attempt to slow down.

The police identified the cars as having Republic of Ireland registrations and both as having been stolen. One was found abandoned by Irish police near Lifford, County Donegal.

The other car was spotted by a specialist Garda (Irish police) armed response unit who gave chase and blocked the car's path outside the village of Killygordon.

Refused to answer questions

Along with the driver, and a rear-seat passenger, McVeigh was found sitting in the front passenger seat.

In a follow-up search of the route taken by the car, Garda found three pairs of Marigold-type gloves, later found to have traces of explosives residue.

In addition, RDX explosive traces were also found on McVeigh's black outer jacket and tracksuit bottoms.

Further traces of RDX were also found on swabs taken from the front seat of the car, the interior door handles and from the rear seat.

Similar explosive traces were found on the other car located six days later in the car park where it had been left that night.

McVeigh was arrested but refused to answer questions and was later granted bail by Irish police.

He was arrested over the murder bid by PSNI detectives on a Lurgan-bound train in May 2016.

McVeigh was remanded in custody and will be sentenced at a later date.

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