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Court hears of items found in car bomb accused was allegedly driving

Court hears of items found in car bomb accused was allegedly driving

The Special Criminal Court trial of a man accused of possessing an explosive substance on the eve of the state visit of the UK Queen five years ago has heard evidence of items found during a search of a car the man was allegedly seen in.

Among the items, a garda told the court, was a bottle containing a liquid which smelled like petrol. 

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 (NOT) guilty to each of the five charges.

Today/Yesterday (Tues), Sergeant Philip Coffey, formerly of Roscommon garda station, told prosecuting counsel Garnett Orange SC that on May 20th, 2011, he searched a white Seat Ibiza car. 

Previously, the court has heard evidence that the car had been followed by a member of the Crime and Security Unit from Drumlish to a LIDL carpark in Longford and that Mr Billings was subsequently arrested there.

Sergeant Coffey said that while searching the car he found transparent gloves, a mobile phone SIM card pack, a homemade funnel and a five-litre water bottle containing a "yellowish liquid" which smelled like petrol.

Earlier, under cross-examination, Detective Inspector Pat Finlay disagreed with Máirtín O'Gibealláin SC, defending, that he was not the garda who arrested Mr Billings.

Inspector Padraig Jones told Mr O'Gibealláin that he was present when Mr Billings was arrested. 

The barrister said that, according to directions from his client, a different garda arrested him. 

Inspector Jones said that was incorrect. 

"I'm quite sure it was Garda Finlay," he added.

The court has previously heard evidence from the driver of a Dublin-bound passenger bus that on May 16th, 2011, when the bus was parked outside Longford train station, a man came and put something in the bus' luggage compartment. 

CCTV footage of Longford train station from that evening was today/yesterday (Tues) shown to the court.

Inspector Jones said that a person walked into the carpark holding a bag and that six minutes later the person left.  

Mr O'Gibealláin asked the inspector to explain why he said the bag appeared lighter when the person left.

The inspector said that when the individual arrived, the bag was "quite rigid" and not "swinging around". 

Describing the clip of the individual leaving the carpark, the inspector said, "The bag doesn't look as big leaving as it did coming in, nor does it seem as heavy, in my opinion." 

The trial continues.