The Special Criminal Court has reserved judgement in the trial of Dublin man charged with possessing a pipe bomb at a filling station in Co Waterford last year.
Samuel Devlin (aged 51), of Mountjoy Square, has pleaded not guilty to the unlawful possession of an improvised explosive device at “top” garage, Butler's Town Roundabout, Cork Road, Waterford on October 15 last year.
The non-jury court this afternoon reserved judgement until July 7, after hearing closing speeches from both the prosecution and the defence.
The court heard that Devlin and another man were placed under surveillance as part of a garda investigation into the activities of an unlawful organisation in the South East.
Devlin was a passenger in a silver Hyundai Atoz car which was observed driving to Waterford from Dublin and entering the May Park housing estate in Waterford city for a period of time.
After the two men stopped at a “Top” garage to refuel, Devlin got out of the car and opened the boot. Gardaí then approached the car, conducted a search and uncovered a pipe bomb and a number of components in a rucksack in the boot.
Devlin was subsequently detained by gardaí while the garage forecourt and a section of the Cork road were sealed off to allow Army bomb disposal experts carry out a controlled explosion and make safe the device.
Mr Garnet Orange BL, for the State, said the court had heard evidence that Devlin was “at something” in the boot of the Hyundai car when intercepted by gardaí and this was sufficient to prove he was aware of the existence of the pipe bomb in the boot.
He said that the court was entitled to draw inferences of guilt from Devlin’s failure to answer questions put to him in interview regarding his presence in the car and, later, at the boot.
Mr Orange asked the court to consider the fact that Devlin used a “formulaic expression” of denial over the course of five interviews with gardaí at Waterford garda station, repeatedly denying both his membership of an unlawful organisation and his possession of an explosive substance.
He said the court could have regard to the fact that Devlin did provide gardaí with a reasonable explanation for his possession of a box cutter and a light bulb, and this was at odds with the “mantra” he repeated throughout the interviews when asked to account for his presence in the car.
Counsel for the defendant, Mr Gerry O’Brien SC, told the court that the prosecution had failed to prove Devlin was in possession of an explosive device as there was no evidence he had any knowledge of either the presence of the rucksack in the car or the presence of a pipe bomb in this rucksack.
He said that although gardaí had given evidence Devlin was “at something” in the boot, they had also conceded he may have been simply standing at the boot and looking in.
Mr O’Brien said gardaí had given evidence that insulation tape found on the pipe bomb was of a similar kind to black tape found in Devlin’s jacket, but had also conceded that this tape was of a “bog-standard” variety found in any hardware store and that its presence was not probative of anything.
He asked the court to return a verdict of not guilty as he said it was clear Devlin had no connection with the car other than being a passenger and there was no forensic evidence linking him to the pipe bomb found in the boot.