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Court hears details of murder bid in trial of former IRA man

A former IRA man who attempted to murder a soldier in 1981 ambushed his victim in a carefully planned operation, a court heard today.

Gerry McGeough, 52, was convicted earlier this year of trying to kill former postman Samuel Brush. His victim is now a DUP councillor in Dungannon, Co Tyrone, but at the time was a member of the Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR) and was delivering a letter.

McGeough was arrested in March 2007 as he left a polling station in Co Fermanagh where he was standing as a republican candidate.

Prosecuting barrister Michael McDowell told Belfast Crown Court: "The killing was planned. Clearly Mr McGeough and his associate lay in wait for the postman to deliver a single letter, the time of posting of which would have been or could have been known.

"It was clearly a carefully planned operation from the outset."

He said Mr Brush was a public servant who was particularly vulnerable to attack as a postman. He highlighted the impact on the victim.

That included: "Not just in the grave injuries he received and the lengthy time he had to spend in hospital and the permanent nature of those injuries but also psychologically and the fear in which he has had to lead his life, living as he does in the same area for the last 30 years."

Mr Brush, who worked as a postman as well as being a part-time member of the UDR, was making a delivery to a house north of Aughnacloy in County Tyrone.

He had just put a letter through the letterbox when he saw a masked gunman stepping out from an adjacent shed, turn in his direction and shoot at him.

A bullet proof jacket saved his life and he returned fire with his own personal protection pistol, wounding the gunman.

McGeough, from Carrycastle Road in Gortmerron, Dungannon, is married with children aged 10, eight, six and two.

He worked in Dublin as a teacher and later carried out community work before standing for election.

He was also convicted of possessing firearms with intent and holding IRA membership by the non-jury court.

His co-accused, Vincent McAnespie, was acquitted of the charges against him.

Mr Justice Benjamin Stephens heard final pleas from counsel today.

Defence barrister Barry McDonald said his client supported the peace process and did not pose a threat to anyone.

He has a serious heart condition and appeared via videolink today.

Mr McDonald said: "Mr McGeough is fully committed to the peace process.

"Neither Mr McGeough nor the organisation he was a member of in 1981 pose any threat to society and certainly not any threat that will warrant a deterrence sentence."

PA Media