A serving soldier who drove the getaway car in a bomb attack in Donegal has been jailed for a total of six years.
Mark Cassidy, aged 31, from Burnfoot, was led away in handcuffs at Letterkenny Circuit Court after he admitted possessing two bombs which exploded beside a family’s 4x4 in 2013.
Judge John O’Hagan said Cassidy had used his expertise as a soldier in the Defence Forces to play a role in the attack on the Coyle family home in Manorview Park, Letterkenny, on November 22, 2013.
Cassidy had pleaded guilty to two charges of possessing explosives.
He admitted driving the car to the scene of the crime but claimed he had been put under duress by others to do so. He is already serving a sentence for possessing a bomb at his Burnfoot home.
It was the distinctive silver, two-door Mercedes car driven by Cassidy and captured on CCTV which first alerted gardaí to his possible involvement.
Judge O’Hagan said Cassidy was discharged from the Defence Forces when he was sentenced for the earlier offence in February 2014.
He said it was clear Cassidy had served with distinction overseas but “has used his profession as a soldier” to be involved in the bomb attack on the Coyle family 4x4.
He said this was an aggravating factor and “puts the case on the higher level of seriousness” in such cases.
The judge dismissed suggestions Cassidy was acting under duress. “There is no evidence of that whatsoever. He knew exactly what he was doing.”
“The fact he did not know the Coyles makes it worse — he didn’t care.”
Judge O’Hagan sentenced Cassidy to eight years in prison on each charge, to run concurrently, with the final two years suspended.
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