Two found guilty of IRA bomb campaign

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The Independent Online
IN THE first terrorist trial since the IRA declared its ceasefire, two Irishmen were convicted yesterday of causing a series of explosions which devastated high streets across north London last year. But after more than 11 hours, the Old Bailey jury had still not reached a decision on a third man, whose counsel had accused the judge of sending signals denigrating his client's case.

All three men denied conspiring to cause explosions between January and October last year, but Derek Doherty, 23, and Gerard Mackin, 33, were found guilty. The jury will try to reach a verdict on the case against Thomas McAuley, 37, today.

During the trial, it emerged that a flat in Lido Square, Tottenham, north London, which belonged to Mr McAuley and where the two terrorists had assembled the bombs and stored the Semtex, was under video surveillance by a joint police and MI5 operation, the first of its kind. But the monitoring operation failed to prevent the two men carrying out three operations in which 10 out of 12 bombs exploded, causing extensive damage to property, although no one was seriously hurt.

Three devices exploded on the Finchley Road, near Swiss Cottage, while a fourth failed to go off. Three days later, another six bombs were left outside shops in Hornsey, Archway and Highgate, though again one failed to explode.

Despite the surveillance, police were unable to prevent Mackin and Doherty giving officers the slip and planting a further two bombs at Staples Corner and West Hampstead. However, Mackin and Doherty were arrested the following day at a services area on the M54 in Shropshire.

Mr McAuley was later arrested at his flat, where officers found 10 detonators, five kilogrammes of Semtex, a loaded revolver and ammunition behind a bath panel. During his defence, he said he had lent his flat to people he did not know and was unaware of the hidden material.

During his summing up, Ronald Thwaites QC, defending Mr McAuley, accused Mr Justice Alliott of 'bullying' his client and 'hitting below the belt' by sending improper signals about the strength of his case to the jury.

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