Man convicted of bid to kill police officer ‘has shown no remorse’

A man convicted of a bid to kill a police officer with an under-car bomb has shown no remorse for the action which could have resulted in multiple deaths, Belfast Crown Court has heard.

Sean McVeigh, 38, of Victoria Street, Lurgan, was found guilty in February of the attempted murder of a police officer at his home using an under-car bomb following a non-jury Diplock trial.

The bid was foiled when the officer’s wife raised the alarm at their home in the Eglinton area of Co Londonderry in the early hours of June 18 2015.

McVeigh was arrested by Irish police across the border in Co Donegal following a car chase a short time later.

He refused to answer questions and was released on bail.

McVeigh was later arrested by detectives from the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) at Portadown train station in May 2016.

A sentencing hearing on Friday was told that McVeigh has shown no remorse.

A prosecution lawyer made a submission to the court outlining aggravating factors.

These included that it had been a terrorist plot which had required planning, involving three people and two cars which were stolen for the purpose and fitted with false registration plates, as well as efforts to ensure their escape route across the border into Co Donegal in the Republic of Ireland.

He described the device planted on the police officer’s car as “sophisticated”, using more than 300g of an “unusual type of semtex” called RDX and a mercury tilt switch.

“The would-be victim was vulnerable, the car was in a driveway, either of them (the police officer and his wife), could have driven the car, both could have been in the vehicle,” he said, adding that the house was in a residential area and members of the public could have been in the vicinity.

“Multiple deaths were risked and at least one was very likely.”

He also told the court that McVeigh has 36 previous convictions, which include resisting police and disorderly behaviour.

McVeigh’s defence lawyer Orlando Pownall conceded his client has shown “no signs of remorse”, and the fact that no-one was injured in the incident was “more through luck than design”.

But he said a life sentence would be “exceptional and draconian”, describing it as an “option of last resort”.

Mr Pownall said none of his client’s previous convictions were of as serious a nature as those he was convicted of in February, and pointed out McVeigh has held down a job as a qualified joiner since the age of 17.

Judge Stephen Fowler said he intended to take some time to consider the submissions before sentencing.

McVeigh is expected to be sentenced on March 8.