herald

Wednesday 13 November 2019

Former US servicemen, aged 82 and 77, charged over Shannon 'security breach'

Ken Mayers and Tarak Kauff during a press briefing by Veterans for Peace in Dublin
Ken Mayers and Tarak Kauff during a press briefing by Veterans for Peace in Dublin

An 82-year-old ex-US Marine was one of two former American serviceman refused bail yesterday over an alleged security breach at Shannon Airport on St Patrick's Day.

At a special sitting of Ennis District Court, Judge Marie Keane remanded Ken Mayers (82), of Santa Fe, New Mexico, and Tarak Kauff (77), of Woodstock, New York, in custody after refusing bail applications.

She said the two are facing "very serious charges".

Judge Keane refused bail after Inspector Tom Kennedy expressed concerns that if they were granted bail they would leave for the US and not be answerable to the charges.

Solicitor for the two, Daragh Hassett, said his clients - both wearing black and white "Veterans for Peace" tops in court - assured him they are "men of honour who have served in the US defence forces and will return to Ireland for their cases".

Insp Kennedy said the incident held up airport operations for 45 minutes.

He said there was a demonstration by anti-war activists at Shannon on Sunday.

Refusing the two bail, Judge Keane said: "I have to take into account the two travelled to Ireland less than one week ago and have been apprehended relating to an alleged breach of security at an international airport.

"Airport security is hugely important and it affects each and every citizen who resides in this State or who visits this State. I am satisfied that I have to refuse bail based on the seriousness of the alleged offences before the court."

Slogans

She said she noted the two men have exemplary records and are veterans of the US forces.

They are likely to be held on remand at Limerick Prison unless they can secure High Court bail. They are charged with causing €2,500 of criminal damage to the airport perimeter fence and unlawful trespass into a taxiway.

A small number of supporters - who later up held banners outside court containing anti-war slogans - were there to support the two men in court.

Giving evidence of arrest, charge and caution, Garda Noel Carroll said Mr Kauff replied "not guilty" when charged and Mr Mayers made no reply.

Insp Kennedy said the two arrived in Ireland last Wednesday and Gda Carroll said they were due to fly out of Dublin to the US tomorrow.

Gda Carroll said it will be alleged the two were spotted crossing a runway on their way to inspect a military aircraft after 10am on Sunday morning.

He said a cutter and gloves were found at a large hole in the airport security fence.

Mr Hassett said there was no evidence the two were involved in cutting the fence.

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