Man acquitted on bomb charges

The bomb find was made in September 2002

A Derry man has been cleared of having a booby-trap car bomb.

The prosecution in the case of James Doherty, 34, told Belfast Crown Court he had been instructed to "offer no further evidence" against the accused.

He said to have done so would have affected "the detection of other offences".

Mr Doherty, of Enterprise House in Great James Street, had denied possessing an undercar booby-trap bomb, and components for a second device for nine months.

The bombs were uncovered near the border during "an intelligence driven operation" on September 17, 2002.

A defence solicitor told the court on Tuesday that trial judge Mr Justice McLaughlin should acquit Mr Doherty.

Applause from friends

The judge said: "It appears that it is no longer in the public interest to present further evidence."

He said that the court would "bow to the judgement of the DPP".

As Mr Doherty was released from the dock, his friends and family in the public gallery clapped and cheered.

Outside the court, a representative of Mr Doherty's solicitor's said the evidence had showed that police agent Kevin Patrick Byrne "was at least partially responsible for the construction and transportation of the bomb", adding that Doherty had "consistently denied" involvement.

Mr Doherty said he had maintained from the start that he "had been set up".

The DPP's decision comes as the Crown case against Mr Doherty was about to close and his defence team were due to call "covert human intelligence source" Kevin Patrick Byrne to give evidence.

During the trial, Mr Justice McLaughlin heard that traces of Semtex were found on Mr Byrne's right hand, under his finger nails and on his clothing.

The trial heard it lead the officer in charge of the case, Detective Chief Inspector Derek Williamson, to concede that the police informer "could have had" a role in the construction or transport of the bomb.

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