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Man who made bomb threats said "this is for The Queen"

Man who made bomb threats said "this is for The Queen"

A man who called Longford garda station during the Queen of Britain's visit to Ireland five years ago made bomb threats against Cork airport and said "This is for the Queen", the Special Criminal Court has heard.

The evidence came during the third day of the trial of a Longford man accused of possessing an explosive substance and making bomb threats on the eve of and during the royal visit. 

Donal Billings (65) of St Bridget’s Court, Drumlish, County Longford is charged before the Special Criminal Court in Dublin with the unlawful possession of an explosive substance at Longford railway station car park on May 16th, 2011.

Mr Billings is further charged with four offences under the Criminal Law Act of 1976 of knowingly making false reports tending to show that an offence had been committed.

The charges allege that he made a false report within the State on May 16th, 2011, that bombs had been placed at Busáras in Dublin and at Sinn Féin's headquarters.

He is also charged with making a false report on May 18th that two mortars were set for Dublin Castle, and with making a false report on May 20th that two bombs had been placed in the toilets at Cork airport.

Mr Billings has pleaded not guilty to each of the five charges.

Previously, the court has heard evidence that on the eve of the royal visit five years ago, a phonecall was made to Longford garda station, threatening that there was a bomb on a Corduff Travel Ballina to Dublin bus, a second bomb on a bus in Busaras in Dublin and a third bomb at Sinn Fein headquarters in Dublin.

The court has also heard evidence that an improvised explosive device (IED) was found that same evening on a Dublin-bound passenger bus. 

Yesterday, Gollec Krzyszokof told prosecuting counsel Garnett Orange SC that on that day he was driving a Corduff travel bus from Ballina to Dublin.

The bus stopped for a ten-minute break in Longford outside the train station, Mr Krzyszokof said.

He added that he was around the bus for the entire ten minutes and that he noticed a man "come to the bus and put something inside". 

Instead of showing the driver the ticket, the man walked away, the court heard. 

"It was a bit strange," Mr Krzyszokof said. 

He said that he felt something being put on the bus and he looked in the mirror. He saw a man walking away, he said. 

The bus then continued its journey toward Dublin, the court heard, before Mr Krzyszokof received a call from the gardai, who told him to find a safe place to park the bus and wait for the gardai to arrive.

He said that he parked the bus at the bus-stop on Straffan Rd in Maynooth. 

The court heard that gardai arrived, evacuated and searched the bus, before the driver learned that a device had been found in the baggage compartment. 

He told Mr Orange that the device had been found in "exactly the same place" as where he had earlier seen the man. 

The next day, Mr Krzyszokof went with gardai to Longford garda station, where he watched CCTV footage of the town's train station, the court was told.  

The footage was shown to the court. 

Mr Orange asked the witness, "Are you able to identify anybody from that piece of footage?" 

"The man who came to the bus," the driver said, "to the baggage compartment." 

Under cross examination, Mr Krzyszokof told Máirtín O'Gibealláin SC, defending, that he did not see the man's face.

Mr O'Gibealláin said, "You are saying the man you saw on the TV is the man you saw at the bus. But when you gave your statement you said he looks like the man." 

"For me it's just a word game. I can't say exactly this is the man," Mr Krzyszokof said. 

He later added that when he saw the CCTV it was the day after the incident. 

"I saw this man, okay he looks like the man. I can't say exactly he is the man," the witness said.  

Mr Orange asked him why this particular man stood out. 

Mr Krzyszokof said, “He behaved differently from other passengers. He just came to the bus, lean into the bus and just walk away. That's why I just wonder something not ok with this.” 

Sergeant Mark O'Doherty, of Store Street garda station, told the court that on May 16th, 2011, he received information that there was a threat of a bomb at Sinn Fein's offices on Parnell Square. 

He and his colleagues searched the building and nothing was found, the court heard.  

Superintendent Joseph Gannon, of Pearse Street garda station, told the court that two days later he was on duty covering the Queen of Britain's visit to Dublin Castle when he received information regarding a bomb threat.

The superintendent said that he directed a search of Dublin Castle and its environs and that nothing was found. 

Garda Keith Maher gave evidence that on May 20th, 2011, he was on duty at Longford garda station when at 3.16pm the station received a phonecall.

The caller was male, the court heard, with an accent which sounded to be from the northern part of the country.

Gda Maher said, "At the start of the conversation I was told to listen and record. I was told this is the Irish Republican Brotherhood, the true Irish army. I was told there were two bombs in Cork, that we didn't get Dublin Castle but we did the bomb in Maynooth."

The caller said that the bombs were in the toilets of Cork airport, the court heard, and that he also said, "This is for the Queen". 

Earlier, the court's three judges rejected an application by Mr Billing's defence lawyers to adjourn or defer the trial. 

Ronan Munro SC, for Mr Billings, had applied to the court to adjourn or defer the trial on the basis that there are no official translations of the 1883 Explosive Substances Act, the Criminal Evidence Act of 1992 and the rules of the Special Criminal Court. 

The trial is being conducted in both English and Irish, after the accused man invoked his right to a trial in the Irish language. 

Delivering the court's ruling on the application, presiding judge Mr Justice Tony Hunt said that the court's "main function is to ensure Mr Billings receives a fair trial". 

"One of the elements of this trial is that Mr Billings has exercised his right to have his affairs conducted in Irish," the judge said, adding, "That wish has been catered for by the provision of translators and a legal team all very proficient in Irish."

The judge concluded, "He is surrounded by legal and linguistic experts who will be in a position to give him full understanding of all matters relevant to the trial. Accordingly, the court refuses the application." 

The trial continues.