A DERRY MAN who drove the getaway car in a bomb attack has been jailed today for eight years – with the final two years suspended.
Former Irish Army soldier Mark Cassidy, 31, with an address in Burnfoot, Co Donegal, but originally from Derry, was led away in handcuffs at Letterkenny Circuit Court after he admitted possessing two bombs which exploded beside a vehicle in Letterkenny in 2013.
Today Judge John O’Hagan said Cassidy had used his expertise as a soldier in the Defence Forces to play a role in the attack on the Coyle family home in Manorview Park, Letterkenny, on November 22, 2013.
Cassidy had pleaded guilty to two charges of possessing explosives.
He admitted driving the car to the scene of the crime but claimed he had been put under duress by others to do so. He is already serving a sentence for possessing a bomb at his Burnfoot home.
Judge O’Hagan said Cassidy was discharged from the Defence Forces when he was sentenced for the earlier offence in February 2014.
He said it was clear that Cassidy had served with distinction overseas but that he “has used his profession as a soldier” to be involved in the bomb attack on the Coyle family jeep.
He said this was an aggravating factor in the case and “puts the case on the higher level of seriousness” in such cases.
The judge dismissed suggestions that Cassidy was acting under duress.
“There is no evidence of that whatsoever. He knew exactly what he was doing,” said the judge.
“The fact he did not know the Coyles makes it worse – he didn’t care. The affect on the family, the fall-uot has been life changing on their lives and they have no idea whatsoever what the reasons were for this incident were and they still don’t know.”
He sentenced Cassidy to eight years in prison on each charge, to run concurrently, with the final two years suspended for two years..
He granted a Destruction Order for the disposal of items recovered by Defence Forces bomb experts in the aftermath of the case.
Members of the Coyle family were in court for the sentencing.
The court had heard the Coyles still didn’t know why they were attacked.