Two men who were found guilty by the Special Criminal Court today of having bomb-making equipment at a Dublin apartment last year were the last people to be convicted at the Green Street courthouse in Dublin.
The three-judge non-jury court is due to move to the new Criminal Courts of Justice at Parkgate St next month after sitting for almost 38 years at the historic Green Street court.
The Green St court was opened in January 1797 and among its first trials were leaders of the United Irishmen for high treason in 1798 and Robert Emmet who made his famous speech from the dock in the court before his execution in 1803.
The Special Criminal Court which was set up in May 1972 because of the Troubles has sat since then in Green St. The court has convicted thousands of Provisional IRA, INLA, Real IRA and Continuity IRA members as well as members of criminal gangs associated with Martin 'The General' Cahill’ and John Gilligan.
Today Cormac Fitzpatrick (aged 23) of Cathedral Walk, Monaghan, Co Monaghan and Terry McConnell (aged 28) of Tullymore Gardens, Andersontown, Belfast were found guilty of unlawfully possessing explosive materials at an apartment in The Crescent, Park West Pointe, Clondalkin, Dublin 22 on September 9, 2008.
Both men will be sentenced at the new courts complex next month.
The 13-day trial heard how enough explosive material, to fully construct four pipe bombs, was discovered when members of the Special Detective Unit raided the one-bedroom flat in the early hours of September 9, 2008.
Among the bomb-making paraphernalia found in the kitchen were four black pieces of steel piping, nails, bulbs, batteries, surgical gloves and hundreds of grams of propellant powder.
Seven travel alarm clocks were also discovered, several of which were being adapted to act as timers.
The trial heard how, moments after armed detectives forced their way into the apartment, two men were observed standing in the bathroom, wearing latex gloves.
They were identified to the court as the two accused, Cormac Fitzpatrick and Terry McConnell.
Also found in the bathroom was a clock with wiring coming from it, two batteries and a plate containing an explosive substance that had been partially scorched or burnt.
Gardaí described how Fitzpatrick was observed raising his hands in the air and dropping a clock and a battery to the floor.
On the 11th day of the trial, McConnell, a former fruit and vegetable salesman, told the court that he had travelled to Dublin on the evening of September 8, 2008 in a bid to organise accommodation for a friend. He said he asked Cormac Fitzpatrick to “go for the spin” with him in case he got tired on the journey.
McConnell described how after getting lost en route, they were brought to an apartment where he believed he would meet the man who was helping him to source accommodation.
The young Belfast man said that once there, he and Mr Fitzpatrick were instructed to put on latex gloves.
McConnell said they were only in the apartment “for a brief period of time”.
His co-accused Cormac Fitzpatrick, a former apprentice electrician, said he did not recall seeing any material in the living room.
Fitzpatrick said he was “uneasy and anxious” at being told to put on latex gloves. He did so but said that in “hindsight it was not a great move”.
Delivering its guilty verdict today, Mr. Justice Paul Butler presiding, rejected McConnell’s “innocent explanation” for being at the flat and held that Fitzpatrick’s account of why he was there was “beyond belief”.
The court held McConnell and Fitzpatrick were found in the apartment wearing latex gloves “in what was to all intents and purposes the middle of a bomb-making operation”
Both men were remanded in custody for sentencing on January 25.