Man accused of arson attacks on police officers’ cars in Northern Ireland refused bail

PSNI

A man accused of arson attacks on three police officers’ cars as part of a campaign of intimidation by drugs dealers must remain in custody, a High Court judge ruled on Wednesday.

Christopher Carlisle was refused bail amid claims he is involved with an organised crime gang who destroyed vehicles at serving PSNI members’ homes in the greater Craigavon area.

The 32-year-old is allegedly linked through heavy telephone traffic with co-accused before and after the cars were all set alight in April 2016.

An investigating detective said: “For want of a better word, the amount of contact is crazy.”

Carlisle, whose address was given as HMP Maghaberry, is charged with three counts of arson endangering life with intent, and being concerned in the supply of Class A drugs.

Prosecution counsel Conor Maguire said a wider spate of attacks, blackmail and intimidation was carried out between October 2015 and July 2016.

A total of 30 cars were set on fire – with no cooperation from the 27 civilian owners.

“Police say that is the result of the victims’ fear of reprisals from the gang that carried out the arson,” Mr Maguire told the court.

One of Carlisle’s co-accused was said to have been covertly recorded telling another associate: “The cops know it was me getting all the cop cars burnt.”

Phone calls between the suspects were also monitored as part of the probe.

It was claimed that this communication demonstrates Carlisle was an active member of a “significant organised crime gang” targeting police officers.

Mr Maguire contended: “There’s considerable telephone traffic in the hours running up to each of the incidents occurring, and telephone silence during the period at which the arsons are taking place.”

Carlisle denies involvement in torching the vehicles, with his legal team emphasising the lack of any forensic evidence.

Defence barrister Michael Ward also argued that cell site analysis does not place his client at any of the scenes when the cars were set alight.

However, Mr Justice Maguire rejected submissions that no prima facie case has been established against the accused.

Denying bail, he cited the risk of further offences.

Article by Alan Erwin from Belfast Telegraph Digital