By Alan Erwin
Belfast Telegraph
7 June 2012

A dissident republican car bomb attack on a Catholic PSNI officer whose leg had to be amputated “went like a dream”, the High Court has heard.

Details of covert recordings of dissident suspects were revealed at a bail application by a man accused of being at an alleged terrorist training camp outside Omagh.

The camp was in advanced preparations for an attack on police or the public, the court 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.

Reference was also allegedly made to the 2010 car bombing in which Constable Peadar Heffron was critically injured.

The court was told one of those recorded had stated: “Heffron went like a dream.”

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

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 in Formil Wood, Gorticashel Road, 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.

Mrs O’Kane said the discussions referred to firearms training and walking up to people and putting nine rounds in them.

The bail application was adjourned by the judge.

Background

Peadar Heffron joined the PSNI in March 2002. He suffered massive injuries after a bomb exploded under his car in January 2010.

Constable Heffron, who married in 2009 and is related to a senior Sinn Fein member, was driving along the Milltown Road in Randalstown, half a mile from his home, when the device exploded.

Captain of the PSNI Gaelic team, he also took part in the first-ever Policing Board meeting held in Irish.

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