Tuesday 12 December 2017

Busarus evacuated after dissident republican caught with 1.6kg of TNT, court told

BUSARUS
BUSARUS

Peter Doyle

Dublin’s major bus station had to be evacuated after a dissident republican was caught on board a service to Derry with 1.6 kilos of high-grade explosives and three detonators, a court was told today.

Patrick Brennan (53) was arrested last June by officers from the garda Special Detective Unit (SDU) at Busaras, in Store Street, in central Dublin, following a tip-off.

Earlier this month, Brennan, of Lindisfarne Avenue, Clondalkin, Dublin 22, pleaded guilty to possessing four 400-gramme blocks of TNT and three electric explosive detonators on June 16, 2016.

At the Special Criminal Court today, Detective Sergeant Padraig Boyce from the SDU told how Brennan had been under surveillance “as part of an on-going investigation” into the activities of IRA members in the Dublin area.

Det Sgt Boyce said that on the day of the arrest, the married father-of-six was observed leaving his house at around 4.50am before immediately getting into a taxi.

The taxi took the accused to the bus station in Dublin’s city centre, where he waited for around 50 minutes before boarding the Bus Eireann 5.55am service to Derry, the three-judge court was told.

At all times, Brennan had a blue canvas bag in his possession and this bag was placed in the seat next to him when he was arrested under section 30 of the Offences Against the State Act aboard the bus by three SDU officers.

Det Sgt Boyce told prosecution counsel Ronan Kennedy that gardai had made a "significant discovery" after Brennan was detained.

He said: "In the base of the bag there was four blocks of Trinitrotoluene, commonly known as TNT and three electronic detonators in good condition strapped to the TNT."

On discovery of the explosives, "the surrounding area was evacuated and the army was called", Det Sgt Boyce said.

Brennan, who had been jailed for four years in 2005 for IRA membership, was the sole passenger on the bus at the time of his arrest, Det Sgt Boyce added.

Det Sgt Boyce told Mr Kennedy that he believed the quantity of explosives could have been used in the construction of “six to eight” separate car bombs.

He said: “From devices that have been recovered intact, 200 grammes (of explosives) have been used.”

And although the explosives weren’t armed, Det Sgt Boyce said the TNT had been “lethally packaged” and could have been detonated by a “static charge” whilst being moved.

On hearing Det Sgt Boyce’s evidence, Mr Justice Tony Hunt said that he would have “breathed a sigh of relief” if he had been told he had been travelling on a bus that had four blocks of TNT on board.

Diarmaid McGuinness SC, defending, said his client was a diabetic who, because of his medical condition, was also registered blind.

Mr McGuinness said he hoped the court would take in to account the guilty plea when sentencing although his client - who has 13 previous convictions, mostly for road traffic offences - had accepted that any sentence imposed by the court “will likely be severe”.

Mr Justice Tony Hunt, presiding, with Judge John O'Hagan and Judge Anne Ryan, remanded Brennan in custody until February 6.

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