Bomb accused trial hears mobile phone mast evidence

Claire McGovern

Reporter:

Claire McGovern

Bomb accused trial hears mobile phone mast evidence

The trial of a man accused of making bomb threats on the eve of and during the state visit of the UK Queen five years ago has heard evidence related to phonecalls made through various masts in County Longford at the time of the alleged offences.

Donal Billings (65) of St Bridget’s Court, Drumlish, County Longford is charged before the Special Criminal Court in Dublin with four offences under the Criminal Law Act of 1976 of knowingly making false reports tending to show that an offence had been committed.

The charges allege that he made a false report within the State on May 16th, 2011, that bombs had been placed at Busáras in Dublin and at Sinn Féin's headquarters.

He is also charged with making a false report on May 18th that two mortars were set for Dublin Castle, and with making a false report on May 20th that two bombs had been placed in the toilets at Cork airport.

Additionally, he is charged with the unlawful possession of an explosive substance at Longford railway station car park on May 16th, 2011.

Mr Billings has pleaded not guilty to each of the five charges.

Previously, the court has heard evidence from gardai that on the eve of and during the royal visit three phonecalls were made to Longford garda station, threatening bombs on buses and the Sinn Fein headquarters, mortars at Dublin Castle, and two bombs in the toilets at Cork airport on the day Queen Elizabeth was due to depart.

Yesterday (Thursday), Conor O'Callaghan, a telecoms engineer, told prosecuting counsel Garnett Orange SC that he provided data to gardai relating to five cell sites located around County Longford.

A cell site or cell tower is a mobile phone site where antennae and transmitters are placed, usually on a radio mast or tower.

Mr O'Callaghan said that on May 16th, 2011, a call made to Longford garda station from an 086 number was routed through a mast at Edgeworthstown.

Previously, the court has heard evidence that the 086 number was associated with a SIM card found in a white Seat Ibiza Mr Billings had been allegedly driving.

Mr O'Callaghan explained that masts in Ireland typically have a range of between 10 to 15 km.

A second phonecall made from the same 086 number to Longford garda station on May 18th at 7.20pm was routed through a mast between Longford town and Edgeworthstown, the court heard, while a third phonecall, made on May 20th at 3.12pm, again from the same 086 number to Longford garda station, was routed through a mast on the outskirts of Longford town.

The trial continues.