AN ALLEGED prominent member of dissident group Republican Action Against Drugs ( RAAD ) must remain in custody, a judge has ruled.Mr Justice McCloskey refused bail to Liam Martin McDonnell after being told that blank-firing revolvers and four replica AK47 rifles were seized during searches of his home in Derry.
One of the weapons, recovered on July 12, was adapted to fire ball-bearings consistent with RAAD’s method of so-called punishment shootings, prosecutors said. McDonnell (26), of Rinmore Drive in the city, is charged with possessing a firearm with intent and possession of articles for use in terrorism. Camouflage jackets, balaclavas, a military-style uniform, mobile phones, a two-way radio and a criminal investigation file were also recovered during the search. The accused handed himself in to police last week, providing a prepared statement to say that all the items found in the house belonged to him. He claimed to be a collector of clothing associated with outdoor activities and to have frequently loaned or given them away at Halloweenor to others around the estate. McDonnell said he collected replica guns as a hobby, stressing that he never used them for illegal purposes. He also denies involvement with any illegal organisations, the court heard.
However, opposing his bail application, a prosecution barrister said : ” Police beleive he is an active and prominent member of Republican Action Against Drugs. ” She set out how, between September 2008 and May this year the organisation had been involved in 73 incidents in the city, Strabane and Co Donegal. These include 30 shootings and one murder. ” Police believe because of his involvement with these people there is a fear of further offences,” the barrister said. ” RAAD uses intimidation methods to assault and control members of the community. ” It’s commonly reported that parents produce their children to these people in order to be shot.” A defence lawyer said the allegations were ” hotly disputed “. He said McDonnell was not charged with membership of any outlawed grouping and had surrendered to custody. However, Mr Justice McCloskey focused on the alleged link between McDonnell and RAAD. He described the activeites of those involved with the organisation as ” horrifying and frankly shocking “. ” Those who work in and for and who associate themselves with the self-styled RAAD trade in certain commodities,” the judge said. ” Those are the commodities of naked intimidation, terror, threats, brutal assaults and conduct of this kind.” Refusing bail, he held that the link between McDonnell and RAAD was, for now, sustained. ” The court would not be acting in the real world if it were to form any other view at this stage,” he said.
WITH MANY THANKS TO : IRISH NEWS.
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