The trial of two Louth men accused of possessing explosive substances has heard evidence from detectives who placed the pair under surveillance as part of a garda operation on the suspected manufacture of vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices by the IRA.
Conan Murphy (aged 25), with an address at Plaster, Mount Pleasant, Dundalk, Co Louth, has pleaded not guilty to the possession of explosive substances at Aghaboys, Mount Pleasant on May 22nd, 2010.
His co-accused Philip McKevitt (aged 58) of Aghaboys, Mount Pleasant, has also pleaded not guilty to the same offence at his home on the same date.
Detective Sergeant Vincent Haughney, crime and security unit, told the Special Criminal Court that on May 19, 2010 he observed Conan Murphy drive his blue Volkswagen Passat near the Ramparts, Dundalk.
He told Mr Paul Greene SC (with Mr Garnet Orange BL), prosecuting, that the boot of Murphy’s car was ajar and he observed what he believed to be at least two beer kegs inside.
Det Sgt Haughney said that he followed Murphy to Philip McKevitt’s house and watched as the car drove in the rear entrance, only to emerge a few minutes later with the boot lid closed.
Detective Garda Denise Shaw, also of the crime and security unit, told Mr Orange that on May 18, 2010 she observed Conan Murphy drive to a Maplins electronic store in Dundalk retail park and purchase what appeared to be two packages of electrical wire.
She agreed with counsel for Murphy, Ms Deirdre Murphy SC, that she could only say the clear plastic packages “appeared” to contain electrical wire and did not verify what was bought by checking CCTV footage in the store.
The officer in charge of the operation, Detective Inspector William Hanrahan of the Special Detective Unit, told Mr Greene that he arrived at Philip McKevitt’s house at 7:10pm on May 22 after members of the Emergency Response Unit had raided outbuildings there.
He said the door of the shed was open, that Conan Murphy and Philip McKevitt were inside and that when he entered the shed his attention was drawn to an explosive device at the rear of the building.
Det Insp Hanrahan told Ms Murphy that he arrived at the scene of the garda raid late as he had taken a wrong turn off the motorway.
He said that he prepared his statement approximately two months after the operation and mistakenly wrote that the two men had been conveyed to Drogheda garda station by the time of his arrival.
Det Insp Hanrahan conceded that this was a mistake as the two men were actually still detained at the scene and he had meant to state that the accused “were” to be conveyed to Drogheda garda station.
In response to a suggestion from Mr Diarmaid McGuinness SC, for McKevitt, that during the garda operation the accused man had been put to the floor by a blow from a rifle butt, kicked in the ribs and left bleeding on the ground for half-an-hour, Det Insp Hanrahan said that this did not correspond to what he saw.
The trial continues in front of presiding judge Mr Justice Paul Butler.