By John McGurk
Belfast Telegraph
21 May 2012

A mother-of-three has been become the first woman ever to be charged with directing terrorism in Northern Ireland.

Sharon Rafferty (37), from Pomeroy, Co Tyrone, appeared in court at the weekend accused of taking part in a terrorist training camp.

The blonde single mother was one of four people who appeared at Omagh Magistrates Court on charges linked to an alleged dissident republican terror training camp that included a secret firing range.

Police claimed Rafferty had been recorded talking to a co-accused discussing targeting police officers and the impact of an .22 rifle bullet on a human being.

Appearing alongside Rafferty were Sean Kelly from Duneane Crescent in Toomebridge, 33-year-old Terence Aidan Coney, of Malabhui Road in Omagh, and 37-year-old Gavin Coney, from Gorticashel Road, also in Omagh.

All four were remanded in custody. Police alleged that the four were involved in an improvised terrorist training camp at Formil Wood on the Gorticashel Road.

It was alleged that 200 rounds were heard being fired at the wood on March 30 this year and that bullet casings were recovered from the area.

A PSNI detective said conversations had been recorded between Rafferty and Kelly from 2011 until April 2012.

He said that in those conversations, Rafferty and Kelly discussed targeting police officers and senior prison officers, acquiring firearms, firearms training, recruiting, and providing finance for an organisation.

The police officer also said the pair were recorded discussing the penetrative power of a .22 rifle on a human being.

He said the PSNI would present witness and DNA evidence linking all four to the firing range.

Rafferty of Cavana Linn, Pomeroy, and 46-year-old Kelly are charged with directing the activities of a terrorist organisation.

The charge accuses them of directing the activities of an organisation styling itself upon the IRA between November 8, 2011 and May 12, 2012. Kelly is also accused of collecting information likely to be of use to terrorists.

All four defendants are accused of possessing a .22 Walther rifle and ammunition and attending a place used for terrorist training.

The officer said balaclavas, rubber gloves and four sets of waterproof clothing had been found during a search of Gavin Coney’s house. He also confirmed that a .22 Walther rifle is legally held by Gavin Coney.

The court heard that during seven days of interviews, Rafferty and the Coney brothers had not answered police questions, while Kelly had denied membership of any organisation.

Only Rafferty applied for bail but judge Liam McNally rejected her application.

All four are due to appear again before Omagh court by videolink tomorrow.