Relatives disappointed with Omagh ruling

Friday 21 January 2005 22.05
Colm Murphy - Court quashes conviction
Colm Murphy - Court quashes conviction

Today’s decision from the Court of Criminal Appeal to quash the conviction of 52-year-old Colm Murphy has been greeted with disappointment by relatives of the Omagh bomb victims.

Murphy was the only person convicted in relation to the Omagh bombing.  

However, the court has ordered a retrial in Murphy's case.

The court said it was granting the appeal on two of the grounds that had been put forward by the defence.

The first related to the approach by the trial court to the alteration of interview notes and the evidence given by two gardaí.

The second related to the invasion of Murphy's presumption of innocence, because the trial court had taken his prior convictions into consideration.

Murphy has been remanded in custody but is expected to make a bail application before the Special Criminal Court next week.

The Court of Criminal Appeal will also sit to hear mention of the case next Friday, after counsel for the defence indicated they are considering applying for the costs of the first trial.

Tight security for hearing

There was tight security at the Four Courts in Dublin this morning as Murphy arrived. 

The building contractor and pub owner, from Jordan's Corner, Ravensdale in Dundalk, was convicted by the Special Criminal Court in 2002 for conspiring to cause the explosion and jailed for 14 years.

The court found that he had lent his mobile phone and another phone to the people who planted the Omagh bomb, knowing it would be used for moving bombs.

His defence claimed the conviction was unsafe. Michael O'Higgins SC described the falsifying of interview notes by two gardaí as a massive perjury, and said the trial court did not seem to be aware of the dangers of relying on perjured evidence.

Counsel for the State, Peter Charlton, had countered that the convictions were safe and the court had been satisfied there was no interlinking between the activities of the two gardaí and the other investigating officers.

The defence also criticised a delay in the trial, which was halted for two months because a judge was ill. Issues on corroboration and the legality of his arrest and detention were also argued.

Two gardaí in court

In separate court proceedings, two detective gardaí, Liam Donnelly and John Fahy, who are accused of perjury relating to their evidence during Murphy's trial, were served with books of evidence at Dublin District Court this morning.

They are both based in Carrickmacross in Co Monaghan.