The former military commander of the notorious Shankill Road’s ‘B’ Company has revealed the Public Prosecution Service dramatically withdrew a charge connected to a pipe bomb left under a car in Broughshane in June 2020 during a loyalist feud.
He was charged with making an explosive device with intent and faced several years in prison if he’d been convicted.
“I wasn’t surprised the charge was dropped because I knew I had nothing to do with that and the police knew that too,” the 55-year-old told us from his bolthole across the Irish Sea.
“I’m relieved it’s all over not least because I always knew I hadn’t done it.
“There’s no doubt in my mind that I was set up with that charge as punishment for speaking out in the Sunday Worldagainst the UDA.
“They wanted to shut me up for speaking out about the truth of what the UDA had become. I’m not going into that again, I’m careful about what I say but someone wanted me out of the way as a punishment for criticising certain people within the UDA.”
Two years ago Brian Dean and other loyalists were forced to flee to Scotland told the Sunday World that the West Belfast UDA was effectively nothing more than a drug dealing crime gang and appealed to young people not to join as they’d end up working as slaves to that gang.
The criminal with more than 50 convictions is living in Scotland after being ‘put out’ of Northern Ireland by the UDA and says he doubts he’ll ever return.
Speaking to this paper from his home in Scotland, he reveals how the “bogus” pipe bomb charge wrecked his life, left him jail for weeks, forced him out of his home and left him to live in a freezing caravan in Scotland all last winter.
“I know I have a record; I know I’ve done some bad things, but I know I was never involved in leaving that pipe under that car in Broughshane.
“I’ve been to jail for things I did do and I didn’t like it then – so I wasn’t looking forward to going to jail for years for something I definitely didn’t do.
“The charge was completely bogus, so I was fairly relaxed about it. I knew it would never stick.
“However, it cost me my home. I was living in temporary accommodation when I was arrested, charged and brought back to Northern Ireland by the police.
“I spent a few weeks in jail but when I got out and went back to my house they told me I had to leave because of the pipe bomb charge. They told me I wasn’t welcome there anymore.
“Luckily a friend let me live in their static caravan but those things aren’t set up for the winter. I spent the winter in a freezing caravan and in total I was living in it for nearly a year.”
Dean says while he’s angry at being charged with the bomb, he’s relieved to have it withdrawn and says he’s happy now in Scotland.
“I’ve changed my life since coming to Scotland,” he says. “I’m still a loyalist, I still have concerns for my country and about the Protocol but I’ve turned my back on the all the other stuff.
“If this charge had stuck and I’d gone to jail I’d have been dragged back into all that UDA stuff. I feel when you are in Northern Ireland you can easily get dragged back in.
“Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been approached here in Scotland but I’m not interested and there’s no pressure like there would be back home.
“I’m happy here in Scotland. I’ve got a house and I’m settled. It’s different way of life and I’m really happy.”
Dean – much like other UDA exiles like Sam ‘Skelly’ McCrory who died recently week in Scotland – can’t return home as the UDA still want him dead.
“It’s sad I can’t go home,” he says. “There are people I miss, there are family members who are ill who I’d like to see but I don’t think I’ll ever go home now because I wouldn’t want to put my loved ones at risk.
“I’ve lived with that threat for years but I wouldn’t want to put that onto those close to me if they gave me comfort.
“I’m content here. The irony of all of this is the fact the UDA boss, ‘The Rat’, the person who caused me all the grief has now turned state evidence against his own people.
“The UDA protected him but now he’s turned on them – that’s something I would never do.”
The pipe bomb, described by police at the time as a “viable device”, was apparently planted under the car on June 15 in the Rocavan Meadow area of Broughshane.
The victim left his home before receiving a call from a relative a short time later to say a pipe bomb had fallen off his car as he left.
The PSNI said at the time of the incident the bomb could have had “devastating consequences”.
It wasn’t until May 2021 when detectives from the PSNI’s Criminal Investigation Branch along with Scottish police swooped on Brian Dean.
During his appearance at Ballymena Magistrates Court a police officer explained that Army Technical Officers removed the device for examination, on which Dean’s DNA was found.
Police told the court they believe he is “linked to West Belfast UDA and he had to leave Northern Ireland in September, 2020 due to a threat”.
His defence barrister made an issue of the fact police had been in possession of a forensic report which confirmed Brian Dean’s DNA was found on a fuse connected to the bomb six months before they arrested him.
His lawyer told the court: “If there was any real concern around a potential pipe-bomber builder, police sat on this for around six months. When I asked about the delay, police said it was because of Covid.
“I simply don’t accept that. This man has been at liberty for a considerable period since police had that report. If they had concerns, they should have acted sooner.”
The judge agreed and described the police’s decision not to arrest Dean as an “unconscionable delay”.
Today Brian Dean says the fact it’s taken over a year for the PPS to drop the charge raises more questions.
“They dropped the charge after examining the evidence and deciding there was insufficient evidence to bring a prosecution,” says the loyalist.
“Surely they examined the evidence before deciding to charge me? It was the same evidence.
“It wasn’t insufficient evidence in my eyes, it was a complete lack of evidence – somebody pointed the finger at me and they grabbed me off the streets.”
Brian Dean has a host of criminal convictions and was most recently convicted in 2020 of having articles and documents linked to the UDA.
At Londonderry Crown Court in 2018 he pleaded guilty to robbery and illegal possession of ammunition following an armed robbery of a filing station in Maghera.
He was sentenced to three years imprisonment for robbery with half of the sentence to be served on licence.
He also received a further four months concurrent sentence for illegal possession of ammunition.