Two men plead not guilty to possession of 150kg of explosives found in car

Armed gardai found four bags of explosives in the boot of a car and 18 detonators under the front passenger seat when they stopped the vehicle on the Naas Road, the Special Criminal Court has heard.

The driver and owner of the car told gardai in his interviews that he knew nothing about the 150kg of explosives which were found in it, the three-judge court also heard.

John Brock (46), with an address at Cushlawn Park, Tallaght, Dublin 24 and John Roche (55), of Bridgefoot Street, Dublin 8, have pleaded not guilty to possession of 57kg of homemade explosives, consisting of ammonium nitrate fuel mix, and thirty-eight 2.5kg rolls of Kemegel industrial explosives at Naas Road, Dublin 12, on April 13, 2016.

Detective Sergeant Peter Whelan, attached to the Special Detective Unit (SDU), told prosecuting counsel Anne-Marie Lawlor SC that he had received information that members of the IRA may be in possession of explosives on the evening in question.

As a result, he and his colleague Detective Garda William Skelly stopped a black Skoda Fabia car at a junction on the Naas Road at 7pm, the court heard.

Det Sgt Whelan said he approached the front passenger door of the car and asked Mr Brock to get out of the vehicle before handcuffing him.

The witness said he could see between 15 and 20 detonators “sticking out” from underneath the front passenger seat of the car. Four heavy duty plastic bags were in the boot of the car, he said, adding that two of them contained a powder mix which looked like homemade explosives.

Det Gda William Skelly testified that he had his official firearm drawn when he opened the front door of the Skoda car and asked Mr Roche to get out and lie face down on the ground. Mr Roche was handcuffed and the car was searched, he said, adding that both men were arrested under Section 30 of the Offences Against the State Act.

Detective Garda Deirdre Ryan, of the SDU, told prosecution counsel John Byrne BL that she was aware a search of the Skoda car had been conducted and a quantity of homemade and commercial explosives as well as detonators had been recovered from it.

The witness said that after Mr Roche's arrest she interviewed him six times at Ballyfermot Garda Station. The court heard that gardai invoked Sections 18, 19 and 19(a) of the Criminal Justice Act in subsequent interviews and told the accused man that a court may draw inferences from his failure or refusal to account for certain matters.

Det Gda Ryan asked Mr Roche to account for the presence of 18 expended detonators, 57kg of homemade explosives and thirty-eight 2.5kg rolls of Kemegel industrial explosives in his car, which he was driving on April 13. “I know nothing about them,” replied Mr Roche.

Det Gda Ryan put it to the accused man that the explosives were found in his Skoda car. “It's my car, I know nothing about them,” he replied.

The detective asked Mr Roche to account for his presence at Behans Quarry on Windmillhill in Rathcoole, Co Dublin at 6.59pm on April 13. Mr Roche said he was not there.

Det Gda Ryan said that Mr Roche spoke to his solicitor before the provisions of Section 19a were invoked. When he returned from his consultation Mr Roche said he was not a member of the IRA and knew nothing about the items found in the car. He also declined to sign the memorandum of interview.

The trial continues tomorrow in front of Mr Justice Tony Hunt, presiding, sitting with Judge Patricia Ryan and Judge Ann Ryan.

KEYWORDS:

Court

Most Read in Ireland