Arms dump footprint link to Kerr murder

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The Independent Online

A footprint found at a major dissident republican arms dump belongs to a man charged by detectives investigating the murder of Constable Ronan Kerr in Northern Ireland, a court heard today.

Gavin Coyle appeared at Dungannon Magistrates' Court accused of a series of terror-related offences.

The 33-year-old, from Culmore Road, Omagh, Co Tyrone, stood in the dock charged with possession of firearms and explosives with intent to endanger life and possession of articles likely to be of use in terrorism.

He was arrested in the wake of 25-year-old Constable Kerr's murder in Omagh earlier this month and the subsequent discovery of a major weapons find in nearby Coalisland.

A senior police officer told District Judge Barney McElhome that a footwear expert had linked a print found at the lock up garages on the Mountjoy Road with one taken from the accused's house.

"I wouldn't say it is the only evidence," said the female detective inspector.

"We have other evidence."

The policewoman said CCTV footage had also been seized as part of the investigation and that Coyle had been identified in two identity parades while in custody.

He is accused of possessing Semtex, rocket propellant, eight detonators, a quantity of improvised timers and power units, home made grenade initiators, a quantity of improvised incendiary devices, four AK assault rifles, six loaded magazines and a quantity of ammunition.

He was also charged with possessing articles likely to be of use to terrorists, namely two mobile phones and four cars.

The offences are alleged to have taken place between May last year and this month.

Amid a heavy security presence inside court, Coyle spoke just once during the seven minute hearing, answering "yes" when asked if he understood the charges facing him.

Wearing a lime green T-shirt, he waved to relatives and friends in the public gallery as he stood between two police officers.

The detective inspector said Coyle made no reply when the charges were put to him on Thursday.

She said the investigation following Constable Kerr's murder had been well resourced and at one stage involved more than 100 detectives.

Coyle was remanded in custody for four weeks.

Constable Kerr was killed by a booby trap bomb placed under his car on April 2.

Two other men arrested by detectives investigating the murder were released unconditionally on Tuesday.