Closing arguments have been heard in the trial of two Louth men accused of manufacturing a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device.
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.
Mr Paul Greene SC, for the State, said the evidence adduced at trial was sufficient for the court to be satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt that the two men were engaged in the manufacture of an explosive device.
He said to bolster that contention the prosecution would rely on evidence of the movement of the two men around the premises in Aghaboys in the days prior to their arrest, as recorded by garda surveillance officers.
Mr Greene said there was forensic evidence linking Mr McKevitt to one of the gas cylinders adapted for use in the device and Mr Murphy to a pair of gloves found in the shed close to the alleged explosive device.
He said the State would point to materials garnered by investigating gardaí at Aghaboys in the aftermath of the arrest of the two men, including bags of glucose and a coil of wire which had been spray-painted green.
Mr Greene said that in interview with gardaí Conan Murphy had sought to minimise his role in the affair, adding that the court could draw inferences from his failure to answer material questions put to him by detectives in one interview.
Counsel for Conan Murphy, Ms Deirdre Murphy SC, told the court that on the State’s own case Mr Murphy’s involvement with the device was disproved, as there was no fingerprint or DNA evidence linking him to it.
She said that Mr Murphy had never denied visiting Philip McKevitt’s home, had given a full explanation for his movements to gardaí and had denied any knowledge of the bags of glucose or coil of wire found on the premises.
Ms Murphy said the State’s contention that Mr Murphy possessed the device because he was in the shed with it when arrested by gardaí was guilt by association and did not prove beyond a reasonable doubt he knew what the device was or had control or dominion over it.
She said it was unfair to regard Conan Murphy’s refusal to answer questions in one interview as corroborative of his guilt as he was under legal instruction not to answer any questions at the time.
Ms Murphy added that the presence of Mr Murphy’s DNA on a glove found in the shed was entirely consistent with his account of visiting Philip McKevitt’s home to help him around the house.
Mr Diarmaid McGuinness SC, for Mr McKevitt, said in the words of Shakespeare the prosecution had been “hoisted by its own petard”, as the evidence adduced showed the trailer could not cause an explosion, marking “the end of the case” as far as Mr McKevitt was concerned.
He said that there was the complete absence of items necessary in the manufacture of a bomb, such as an explosive substance or a detonator, and added the court was being asked to convict on the opinion evidence of one garda witness who testified that the trailer was an explosive substance.
Mr McGuinness said that the DNA evidence did not establish when and how long ago Mr McKevitt had handled the gas cylinder, and asked whether the presence of his DNA was consistent with an innocent handling of the object, given it was unlikely a bomb-maker would handle a device without using gloves.
He said that DNA could be transferred “relatively easily” and, as the evidence did not show the degree of contact Mr McKevitt made with the device or the size of the area where the DNA was found, it could not prove that he handled the gas cylinder directly.
Presiding judge Mr Paul Butler remanded both men on continuing bail and said the court would return judgement on Friday, February 24.