Man facing ‘improvised explosive device’ charges has electronic tag removed so he can go to shed at his home

Ballymena Court8
Ballymena Court.

A MAN accused of attacking a car with an improvised explosive device which contained petrol in a bottle with fireworks attached has had an electronic tag removed so he can access a shed at his home.

Stephen Gary Maternaghan (36), of Chichester Park Central in Ballymena, was charged last month following an incident at Woodland Park outside Broughshane.

He is charged with several offences including possessing a petrol bomb and the attempted arson of a Ford Kuga vehicle whilst 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 police officer had told the November hearing 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.

Also at last month’s hearing, 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 were very common at that 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.

In November, Maternaghan was released on £500 bail with conditions including that he lived at Chichester Park Central with a night time curfew and had no contact with the injured party.

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

He returned to court on December 13 seeking to vary his bail by having his electronic tag removed so it would not set off an alarm if he went to a shed at his home.

District Judge Nigel Broderick agreed the tag could be removed but said the curfew would remain and said the defendant would have to present himself at the door if police called.

The case was adjourned to December 20.

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