The trial of a former IRA commanding officer for the kidnap of supermarket boss Don Tidey 25 years ago has opened at the Special Criminal Court.

Brendan 'Bik' McFarlane, 56, with an address on Jamaica Street in Belfast, is also charged with firearms offences.

He is pleading not guilty.

The court was told that Don Tidey left his home at 7.50am on 24 November 1983. He was taking his daughter Susan to school, while on his way to work. His son Allister was driving in another car behind him.

When he got to the end of the driveway a car that appeared to be a garda car pulled across the exit. It had a flashing light and a man dressed as a garda waved him down.

He was stopped and asked his name, when he said he was Don Tidey the man produced a hand-gun and told him to get out.

Mr Tidey tried to reverse away but could not because his son's car was behind him. Mr Tidey was forced into the rear of another car and made to lie there for some time.

His daughter was also pulled out of the car and pushed onto a nearby fence while Mr Tidey's car was driven away. Three other hooded men then appeared, one had a machine gun and two bursts were fired into the air.

During Mr Tidey's journey the car was stopped and he was put into a van. He received several blows and a hood was put over his head. The van was driven off at high speed and stopped some time later in an area of farmland.

Mr Tidey was then taken out, he was interrogated and told he was been kidnapped for a ransom and that his life was in his own hands.

He was then driven off in the van again and later stopped at the side of the road where Mr Tidey was led chained and hooded across the countryside to a hideout.

When gardaí and Army personnel came across the group in Derrada Wood in Ballinamore, clashes occurred with the kidnappers.

A trainee garda, 23-year-old Garry Sheehan from Carrickmacross and a soldier, 35-year-old Private Patrick Kelly from Moate, were killed in the gunfire and Mr Tidey was rescued.

Following this, the kidnappers took a number of the rescuers hostage, stole their weapons and made their way to a blue Opel car. They drove away in this and fired on gardaí, wounding a detective before escaping.

The Special Criminal Court heard that the direct evidence against Mr McFarlane comprises of certain things he said in custody to interviewing gardaí and that his fingerprints were found on a milk carton, a plastic container and a cooking pot found at the scene.