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Special Criminal Court

Explosives found in Dublin car equal to over half amount used in Omagh bombing, court hears

John Roche (55) and John Brock (46) were last week found guilty of possessing 167kg of explosives in the boot of a car.

THE TOTAL AMOUNT of explosives found in a car on the Naas Road in Dublin three years ago equated to almost three quarters of the amount used in the Omagh bombing, the Special Criminal Court has heard.

John Roche (55), of Bridgefoot Street, Dublin 8 and John Brock (46), with an address at Cushlawn Park, Tallaght, Dublin 24, were last week found guilty of possessing 167kg of explosives in the boot of a car on the Naas Road in Dublin 12, on 13 April 2016.

They had both pleaded not guilty.

Delivering judgement last week, Justice Tony Hunt said that the facts of the case proved both men were “in joint control” over the substances found in the car and that they were guilty of having the explosives.   

The court has previously heard the 167kg of explosives included 57kg of ammonium nitrate fuel mix, otherwise known as ‘ANFO’, and thirty-eight 2.5kg rolls of Kemegel industrial explosives.

At their sentence hearing in the Special Criminal Court this morning, Detective Sergeant  Tom Power, a ballistics expert, compared the volume or weight of the explosives found in the boot of the car on the Naas Road with other high-profile bombs previously found elsewhere by gardaí.

He told John Burns BL, prosecuting with Anne-Marie Lawlor SC, an estimated 500lbs (227kg) of ANFO was used in the Omagh bombing on 15 August 1998.

Detective Sergent Power told Burns:

So, in comparison then, that [Naas Road bomb] would be a very large bomb. It would amount to over half or three quarters of the Omagh bomb.

The car bomb which exploded in Omagh, Co Tyrone, killed 29 people, including a woman pregnant with twins, and injured 220 others.

It is deemed to be the deadliest single incident of the Troubles in Northern Ireland.

Also by way of comparison, Detective Sergent Power told the three judges that a keg bomb found in the car park of Finnstown House hotel in Lucan, Co Dublin, in May 2014 contained 30kg of ‘ANFO’.

He also said a keg bomb found in Kilcurry Church, Co Louth, also in May 2014, contained 50kgs of ‘ANFO’.

Neither the Finnstown nor Kilcurry Church keg bombs were ever detonated.

The court has previously heard that, apart from the four bags of explosives found in the boot of the car on the Naas Road, 18 detonators were also discovered under the front passenger seat.

Detective Sergent Peter Whelan gave evidence in the trial that he could see between 15 and 20 detonators “sticking out” from underneath the front passenger seat of the car when he stopped it on 13 April. 

‘A spontaneous act’

The court heard this morning that Brock was convicted in the Special Criminal Court in 2008 for possessing firearms and ammunition and subsequently received a six-year sentence which was backdated to 2007.

It also heard he has two daughters with his former partner and a child with a new partner.

Padraig Dwyer SC, defending, asked the three judges to consider that, although Brock has a previous conviction, he has not come to the attention of gardaí since 2013.

Justice Tony Hunt, presiding, and sitting with Judge Patricia Ryan and Judge Ann Ryan, told Mr Dwyer: “He dropped off the radar…but this is a pretty big blip.”

Dwyer said Brock’s involvement in the incident was “very much a spontaneous act” and said his knowledge was “limited”.

Dwyer told the judges Brock had no foresight or prior knowledge of the explosives.

In respect of Roche, who is married with children and grandchildren, the court heard he has no previous convictions and never previously came to the attention of gardaí.

It also heard he lives in south inner city Dublin where he works as a barber/hairdresser and has his own business.

The non-jury court heard he does a considerable amount of volunteer work in the Meath Street area of Dublin city. He volunteers at a boxing club and also gives free haircuts to elderly patients in St James’s Hospital.

Hugh Hartnett SC, for Roche, told the three judges Roche is not in good health and has “significant heart problems”.

Justice Hunt told the court that, in light of what the court heard this morning, the three judges had “possibly more to think about”.

He adjourned the sentencing until Friday morning.

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