Man, charged with litany of offences linked to beer keg devices, refused bail

A 41-year-old man, who denied a series of charges linked to the discovery of four explosive devices over the past month, may strike again if released, Newry Magistrates Court heard.

Tuesday, 30th March 2021, 8:41 am
Maghery Road, Milltown. Photo courtesy of Google.

Joseph Kevin Markey, of Tassagh Road, Keady, appeared from Banbridge Police Station via video link at Newry Magistrates Court on Monday morning.

Facing a litany of charges linked to the discovery of devices in Millown, Maghery, Castleblaney Road, Keady and Newtownhamilton Road, Camlough, Markey is not thought to have any links to paramilitaries, a PSNI officer said.

The court heard police said no motive has been established.

Markey also faced charges linked to motoring offences including driving while disqualified, two counts of using a vehicle without insurance and two counts of taking a vehicle without authority on dates between March 1 and 26th this year.

He also faces four separate charges of making explosives under suspicious circumstances on March 12, 16, and 22.

He is accused of two counts of causing an explosion likely to endanger life on March 12 and 16,

Plus two further counts of attempting to cause an explosion likely to endanger life on March 22.

When asked if he understood the charges against him, Markey replied ‘No’.

A Detective Constable, who opposed bail, told the court that police responded to reports of a loud bang on March 12 on the Castleblaney Road Keady.

At around 5am, they discovered damage to the road consistent with an explosion and a device consisting of a beer keg, a car battery, fertiliser and diesel.

Newry Magistrates Court heard that the other devices discovered over the month of March were of a similar nature.

Police said four batteries were purchased at Halford’s in Armagh on March 1.

The Detective Constable said Markey was traced to the batteries and that he was spotted in various locations across Armagh in his father’s car, consistent with where the other devices were found.

The detective said Markey’s father is in a nursing home and would be unable to grant permission for his son to use his car.

He added that Markey’s home was searched and all the components needed to build an explosive device were found.

The Detective Constable said the battery would become the timer but that it was a unknown timer and could go off at any time.

“It sets the device to go off when it reaches a certain temperature.

“I would suggest he is a danger to the public,” said the detective adding that no motive has been established.

He said it would appear Markey was trying to improve his ability.

“He has built on this knowledge that he has now acquired,” the detective told the court.

Asked by Markey’ solicitor, Mr Jarlath Paul Fields,about a possible motive, the detective said this is ‘not paramilitary’ in nature.

Opposing bail, the detective said Markey had ties with the Irish Republic. However under cross examination, the detective admitted that Markey had no history of absconding.

Also that Markey had been living at his current address for seven years and had been born and bred in Keady, although the detective said Markey was born in the Irish Republic.

The solicitor asked if the main evidence against his client was the batteries bought in Halfords. “He does not accept he purchased those batteries,”

He also said that another person was named on Markey’s father’s insurance. The Detective admitted that this person had not been located and may be in the Irish Republic and enquiries were ongoing.

Mr Fields said the items found in his client’s house were items which are readily available and that his client said he had received the beer keg from a relative’s bar.

Deputy District Judge John Rea said Markey is accused ‘of very serious offences’.

“There are several incidents and I am entirely satisfied that there is evidence to connect,” he said, adding that there was a risk of absconding.

He remanded Markey in custody to appear before Armagh Magistrates Court on April 20.

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