Northern Ireland

Terror camp was preparing for an attack, court told

An alleged terrorist training camp was in advanced preparations for an attack on police or the public, the High Court in Belfast has heard.

Prosecutors also claimed suspects were covertly recorded discussing methods, recruitment, arms acquisition and even their willingness to accept the negative publicity killing a PSNI officer would bring.

During months of surveillance in Co Tyrone one of those under scrutiny allegedly declared it was no longer a challenge to target Catholic officers.

The investigation was said to be into a group of dissident republicans styling themselves on the ideology, philosophy and activities of the Real IRA, without being affiliated to that organisation.

Details emerged during a bail application by one of those accused of being at the alleged camp in Formil Wood, Gorticashel Road, outside Omagh.

Shell cases

Terence Aidan Coney, a 33-year-old architect from Malabhui Road, Carrickmore, Co Tyrone denies charges of preparation of terrorist acts, possession of a firearm with intent to endanger life or property, and attending a place used for terrorist training.

It was claimed that he attended the camp with two other men and a woman on March 30 when 200 rifle rounds were fired.

Balloons and pieces of tin had been pinned to trees as targets, a judge was told.

Only 15 shell cases were recovered, with the prosecution alleging a deliberate attempt was made to "cleanse" the area of evidence.

According to Crown Counsel Fiona O'Kane, witnesses have linked Coney to the scene.

She said: "The police case is that the shooting that took place in the woods that day was terrorists practising for potential attacks, practising in the advanced stages of mounting an attack on police or other members of the community."


According to the barrister these suspicions were supported by tape-recorded conversations between two co-accused.

Sharon Rafferty, 37, from Cavana Linn, Pomeroy and Sean Kelly, 46, from Duneane Crescent, Toomebridge were covertly monitored at various locations throughout Co Tyrone from 2011 to April 2012, the court heard.

"During some of the conversations, in particular in the relation to the murder of Constable Ronan Kerr, Rafferty and Kelly discussed the negative publicity that killing a police officer brings," Mrs O'Kane said.

"However, they were prepared to accept this."

She accepted that none of the alleged remarks can be attributed to Coney.


But Mr Justice Maguire was told police believe he was deliberately recruited because his lack of criminal record meant he was "clean".

Searches carried out at the home of his co-accused brother, Gavin Joseph Coney, 34, of Gorticashel Road, Omagh, led to the recovery of a legally held rifle.

A silencer, extra ammunition, four balaclavas, dark jackets, gloves and pairs of white trainers were also found, according to the prosecution.

Terence Aidan Coney's barrister, Eugene McKenna, stressed that his client vehemently denies any involvement with dissident republicans or support for them.

He argued that most of the prosecution case had focused on material gathered on the other suspects.

"Therefore to suggest that this applicant was involved in anything more than a legitimate recreational activity, it is essential for the prosecution to tie him in with the co-accused," he said.

Mr McKenna told the court he had scanned through transcripts from seven hours of surveillance and found only three mentions of the name Aidan which could possibly refer to his client.

Following further discussions the bail application was adjourned so that a more in-depth examination of the material can be carried out.