McGinn accused of killing soldiers

Click to follow
THE MAN accused of murdering the British soldier Stephen Restorick at a south Armagh checkpoint was arrested after troops swooped on a nearby farm, a court heard yesterday.

Bernard Michael McGinn, 41, was allegedly found hiding in a hayshed during a raid two months after the murder of Lance Bombardier Stephen Restorick, 23, in February 1997.

McGinn, from Castleblaney in County Monaghan, appeared at Belfast Crown Court yesterday accused of murdering L/Bdr Restorick, from Peterborough, Cambs, as he stood chatting to a motorist in the border village of Bessbrook. McGinn is charged with 37 terrorist offences including the murder of two other soldiers, Lance Bombardier Paul Garrett in 1993 and Thomas Johnston, a former member of the Ulster Defence Regiment, in 1978.

It took nearly 30 minutes to read out the charges, which included a string of explosives offences, possession of weapons and membership of the IRA.

McGinn appeared alongside three other south Armagh men, who are charged with conspiring to murder a person or persons unknown in April 1997. A fifth man is accused of providing a hayshed used in the alleged conspiracy.

John Creaney QC, for the prosecution, said the soldiers who arrested the men found a car which had been turned into an elaborate mobile firing platform. A cavity had been created in the rear in which a gunman could crouch. Inside was a Barrett rifle, an AK47, ammunition and ear plugs. This and another car had been fitted with CB radios tuned to the same channel. Mr Creaney said such evidence clearly showed that the men were intent on using the weapons to kill somebody. "These four were quite clearly guilty on the evidence of conspiring to murder persons or persons unknown," he said.

All five men deny the charges against them. The trial, which is expected to last six weeks, resumes today.