A High Court judge has ruled that the trial of the maze escaper Brendan McFarlane should not go ahead before the non jury Special Criminal Court.

McFarlane was facing charges relating to the kidnapping of supermarket executive, Don Tidey, 20 years ago.

The kidnapping led to a nationwide search which culminated in a shootout between the kidnappers, gardaí and army at Derrada Wood near Ballinamore in December 1983.

A garda recruit and soldier were killed during the shootout.

McFarlane, with an address in Belfast, has claimed that his rights to a fair trial had been prejudiced by the delay in prosecuting and also through the loss of a number of items on which gardaí claim his fingerprints were found.

He was facing trial on charges alleging that between 25 November, 1983 and 16, December 1983 he was in possession in of a fire arm with intent to endanger life and for an unlawful purpose.

He was also charged with the false imprisonment of Mr Tidey between the same dates.

Mr Justice O Caoimh ruled that McFarlane's rights to a fair trial had been prejudiced by the gardai's loss of a number of items taken from the kidnappers' hideout.