Northern Ireland

County Armagh man on trial for plotting to kill police with mortar bomb

A County Armagh man has gone on trial accused of plotting to kill police officers with a mortar bomb.

Ryan McKenna, 25, from Lurgantarry, Lurgan, faces three charges of conspiracy to cause explosions, possession of explosives with intent to endanger life or damage property and possession of explosives under suspicious circumstances.

They relate to the discovery of an improvised mortar bomb in 2007.

Mr McKenna has denied all the charges.

The prosecution told the non-jury Diplock trial that undercover soldiers were carrying out covert surveillance on the Cornakinnegar Road, near the Kilwilkie estate in Lurgan on 29 March 2007.

The court heard that the undercover surveillance team noticed four men in a field behaving in an "agitated'' fashion.


An hour later, four men were stopped in a Nissan Primera car on the Antrim Road.

The men were Sean McConville, Gary Toman, Ryan McKenna and Damien McKenna, the accused's brother.

All four were arrested and, during interview, Ryan McKenna said that he was on his way to his sister's house in Lurgantarry when he met his brother Damien.

The court heard that during the rest of the interview, Mr McKenna made "no comment'' replies to police questions.

All four suspects were later released without charge but the court heard that on 5 April 2007 a more comprehensive search operation was carried out and an improvised mortar bomb device and launching tube were found "concealed behind dead grass and vegetation''.

The prosecutor said the device was examined by an army bomb expert who said it was ready for use once a command wire was attached.

Damien McKenna, Sean McConville and Gary Toman were later arrested after their DNA was found linking them to the device.

The court heard the three later pleaded guilty to possessing explosives with intent to endanger life. They were subsequently sentenced to 15 years in prison.

'Serious damage'

The prosecutor said Ryan McKenna could not be located at the time and "his details were circulated as a person wanted for arrest''.

The prosecution lawyer told the court: "These items found concealed behind dead grass and vegetation comprised of an improvised mortar bomb together with an improvised launch tube.

"The bomb was designed to explode on impact.

"This explosive device could have caused serious damage to an armoured land rover or death to its occupants.

"His presence together with this group shows clearly that he agreed with them that an attack would be carried out to kill or cause serious injury or cause serious damage to property."

The trial continues.