03 Oct 2022

Defence at royal visit bomb trial applies to have explosives charge dismissed

Defence at royal visit bomb trial applies to have explosives charge dismissed

The lawyers for a Longford man accused of possessing an explosive substance on the eve of the state visit of the UK Queen five years ago have applied to the Special Criminal Court to have the charge dismissed.

Donal Billings (65) of St Bridget’s Court, Drumlish, County Longford is pleading not guilty to the unlawful possession of an explosive substance at Longford railway station car park on May 16th, 2011.

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

The court has previously heard evidence that on that night gardai found an IED in the baggage compartment of the bus.

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.

Yesterday (Monday), Máirtín O'Gibealláin SC, for the accused man, submitted to the court that the evidence to prove the explosive substances charge was "highly doubtful".

There is no evidence before the court that the bomb was placed on the bus in Longford, he said.

He added that the driver of the bus did not see anybody put a bag on the bus and that he only saw a man walking away from the bus with a bag in his hand.

Mr O'Gibealláin said that there was "no connection" between his client and the IED that was found on the bus.

In reply, prosecution counsel Garnett Orange SC said that the court cannot view the charge in isolation from the other alleged offences.

Mr Billings 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 denies the four charges.

Mr Justice Tony Hunt, presiding with Judge Martin Nolan and Judge Cormac Dunne, told counsel the court will take some time to consider the defence's application.

The trial resumed this morning, Tuesday.

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