Man, 28, accused of Strabane police bomb attack remanded in custody

Officers escaped injury after a bomb exploded outside their car in Strabane Credit: PA images

A man accused of trying to kill two police officers in a bomb attack in Strabane must remain in custody, a High Court judge has ruled on Tuesday.

Charlie Love, 28, was refused bail on charges of attempting to murder members of a PSNI patrol in the Co Tyrone town last month.

Judge Sir Declan Morgan identified a potential risk that he could be “preyed upon” to re-offend.

Love, from Bridge Street in the town, faces further counts of possessing explosives and causing an explosion likely to endanger life. He denies all charges.

An improvised device was fired at a PSNI car in the Mount Carmel Heights area shortly before 11pm on November 17.

Two officers in the vehicle heard a loud bang and saw a bright flash, but escaped injury.

Investigations established that military grade explosives had been used in the attack which left a substantial crater at the point of detonation.

A command wire led to the suspected firing point close to a tree stump on the site of a disused school.

Police also discovered a modified drill believed to have been used to trigger the blast.

Love is allegedly connected by DNA evidence on the firing mechanism and a metal pole at the scene of the attack claimed by dissident republican group the New IRA.

During police interviews the accused could not explain why his DNA may be on the drill, but explained that he was a manual worker and used tools.

Defence lawyers challenged the reliability of the forensic evidence linking Love to the attack.

Barrister Seamus Lannon also argued that his client is a vulnerable individual who had to be accompanied by an appropriate adult for police questioning.

Sir Declan however rejected suggestions that Love could be released under arrangements involving police surveillance of his movements.

“The background to the offences would suggest this was carried out by or on behalf of an organised criminal gang,” the judge said.

“The fact that he (Love) is vulnerable potentially creates a greater risk that he would be preyed upon by those other people.”

Denying bail, he held: “There is a real risk, on the prima facie case, of further offences of a nature which would potentially endanger life.”

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know.