Strabane man charged with having documents likely to be of use to terrorists

Bail has been refused in the case of a Strabane charged with having documents likely to be of use to terrorists.

Amid a heavy police presence, 38-year-old Michael Edwards of Park Road appeared before Strabane Magistrates Court this morning.

Wearing a black tracksuit top and jeans, Edwards spoke only to confirm he understood the charge.

Outlining the case, CID Detective Brian Reid told the court that on 11th August, police raided the defendant's home under the terrorism act.

During the search of a Ford Mondeo, police uncovered a white envelope containing the registration numbers of three vehicles.

Checks revealed that one of the registrations related to a vehicle that was the subject of a pipe bomb in Strabane earlier this year.

A second car registration was that of a contractor who had recently carried out work at the local PSNI Station while the third number was of local businessman, who, police claimed, would regularly handle large sums of money.

DS Reid said the concern in that case was that the businessman was possibly being set up as a Tiger Kidnapping target.

Opposing bail, the CID officer said their fear was that if released, Edwards might abscond to the Irish Republic.

Representing the defendant was solicitor Canice McManus, he said his client had no knowledge of the document found in the car and when shown it, Edwards said he thought they were numbers for cattle kept on his father's farm.

Taking into consideration both arguments, District Judge Mr Liam McNally said it was his belief that there was a strong case against Edwards. He added that given the large number of pipe bomb incidents in the town in recent times, it was significant that one of the registrations found was that of a car pipe bombed earlier this year.

This gave rise to concerns over the likelihood of further offences Mr McNally said and on this basis, bail was denied.

As Edwards was remanded to appear at Strabane court by video link again on September 23, family members applauded and shouted 'you've been set up'.