Special Criminal Court

Bomb threat accused was visiting his brother on the night gardai found an IED

Claire McGovern

Reporter:

Claire McGovern

Bomb threat accused was visiting his brother on the night gardai found  an IED

A Longford man accused of possessing an explosive substance on the eve of the state visit of the UK Queen five years ago has told the Special Criminal Court that he was visiting his brother in hospital on the night of the alleged offence.

The court has previously heard evidence that gardai found an IED in the baggage compartment of a Dublin-bound passenger bus the night before the Queen arrived in Ireland.

Donal Billings (66) of St Bridget’s Court, Drumlish, County Longford denies the unlawful possession of an explosive substance at Longford railway station car park on May 16th, 2011.

He is further charged 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.

Mr Billings is pleading not guilty to each of the four charges.

It is the prosecution's case that on the eve of the royal visit he placed an IED on a Dublin-bound passenger bus outside Longford train station.

The prosecution also allege that Mr Billings called Longford garda station on three separate occasions, threatening bombs on buses, the Sinn Fein headquarters in Dublin and Cork airport, as well as two mortars at Dublin Castle while the Queen was banqueting there.

On the accused man's application, the trial is being heard in both Irish and English.

Giving evidence today, Tuesday through an interpreter, Mr Billings told his counsel Máirtín O'Gibealláin SC that, on the night the IED was found on the bus, he was visiting his brother in Mullingar hospital.

He had no involvement or contact with explosive substances, he said.

"From what I've seen in the case, and from what I know myself, there's no forensic evidence, no witness, no fingerprints, there's none of that in the exhibits," Mr Billings told the court, adding, "All of the evidence is entirely circumstantial."

Previously, the court has heard that on May 20th, 2011, Mr Billings was arrested in a LIDL carpark in Longford and that while searching his car gardai found a SIM card which the prosecution allege was used to make the phonecalls.

Mr Billings told Mr O'Gibealláin that when driving into the carpark he saw the SIM card on the ground and he picked it up.

He put the SIM card into his bag, he said.

The trial continues.