Dundalk man caught making bomb in shed has conviction upheld on appeal

Court of Appeal

Ruaidhrí Giblin


Ruaidhrí Giblin



Dundalk man caught making bomb in shed has conviction upheld on appeal

The Special Criminal Court in Dublin

A Dundalk man caught making a bomb in his shed which, detectives said, would have weighed 500lb fully loaded, has lost an appeal against his conviction. 

Philip McKevitt (62) of Aghaboys, Mount Pleasant, Dundalk, was convicted by the three-judge Special Criminal Court of the possession of explosive substances at Aghaboys, Mount Pleasant on May 22nd, 2010. He had denied the charges.

At the beginning of the trial, McKevitt's co-accused had pleaded guilty to the same offence.

Conan Murphy (32), son of a man found civilly liable for the Omagh bombing in 1998, was jailed for six years while McKevitt was jailed for eight-and-a-half.

McKevitt lost an appeal against his conviction today/yesterday(WEDNESDAY) with the Court of Appeal holding that, given the strength of the prosecution’s case, “any other outcome” would have been “almost inconceivable”. 

It was the second time McKevitt had been tried for and convicted of the offence. The first trial took place at the Special Criminal Court in 2011 and McKevitt was convicted in February 2012. However, a ruling by the Court of Criminal Appeal overturned the verdict and directed a re-trial.

The Special Criminal Court heard that an investigation into the men began in May 2010, when gardai received information about IRA activity in Louth, and a surveillance operation was put in place outside McKevitt's house in Aghaboys.

The house was observed for four days, during which McKevitt was seen with Murphy in the yard and a garda heard an angle-grinder being used in the shed.  

On May 22nd, at 7pm, gardai entered the shed. McKevitt was seen coming from the direction of a trailer.

Inside the trailer were two adapted gas cylinders, which had been deliberately altered, with sections cut from the top of both, and were strapped to a wooden frame in the trailer.

In the boot of a car beside the shed there were fifty-two 500g bags of glucose.

Also seized by gardai was a roll of wire, 377 metres long and recently spraypainted green for camouflage.

According to the investigating detectives, this was the command wire, normally used for detonating an explosive device from a distance.

A match for McKevitt's DNA was found on the handle of one of the gas cylinders. However, during interviews with gardai, McKevitt said he did not know the trailer and gas cylinders were in his shed and that he had never seen them before.