Man appears in court charged with using an ‘improvised explosive device’ near Slemish Mountain

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A MAN has appeared in court charged with attacking a car with an improvised explosive device which contained petrol in a bottle with fireworks attached.

The charges follow an incident at Woodland Park near Slemish late on Tuesday.

Stephen Gary Maternaghan (36), of Chichester Park Central in Ballymena, appeared in the dock at Ballymena Magistrates Court on Thursday charged with several offences including possessing a petrol bomb and the attempted arson of a Ford Kuga vehicle endangering the life of the occupants of a nearby house.

He is also charged with criminal damage to a car window; possessing fireworks without a licence and possessing an ‘improvised explosive device’ with intent to endanger life or cause serious damage to property.

A prosecution lawyer said bail was objected to and a police officer told the court that at 10.50pm on Tuesday November 13 a window was broken in an empty parked vehicle parked just four feet from a house and an ‘improved explosive device’ thrown into the back of the car.

A male was seen running off and getting into a vehicle and the injured party viewed CCTV at his home and he believed he recognised Maternaghan from the footage.

The officer said the injured party believed the attack was related to an ongoing issue between the injured party and a relative of the defendant.

The court heard the injured party, on previous dates, had a vehicle set on fire and a paint bomb thrown at a bedroom window which caused him to move to the rural area near Slemish.

The police officer had concerns that the defendant could commit further offences and said an “amount of planning” had taken place to construct the device.

The officer said army ammunition technical officers (ATO) had to be called out to deconstruct the device which was made up of a glass bottle containing petrol and sugar with two large fireworks attached.

He said ATO had taken away “explosive powder”.

The police officer said the device burnt itself out and there was no explosion.

Defence barrister Stephen Law said the device was in essence a bottle with some petrol in it and two fireworks attached and it had “fizzled out”.

He said fireworks are very common at this time of year and he described it as a “very crude device” which had not exploded.

Mr Law said the CCTV footage was of poor quality and he claimed the injured party had an agenda against the defendant.

The lawyer claimed the injured party had made previous unfounded allegations including a claim that the defendant was a “very high ranking drug dealer” which led to police searching Maternaghan’s address when “absolutely nothing” as found.

District Judge Nigel Broderick said Maternaghan was facing serious charges at Thursday’s court but said he could release the accused on £500 bail with conditions including that he resides at Chichester Park Central with a night time curfew and have no contact with the injured party.

Maternaghan is also not to enter Broughshane or a radius around the injured party’s house; he is to be electronically tagged and has to report to police once a week.

The case was adjourned to December.

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