A used car dealer from Dublin has had his conviction for IRA membership quashed at the Court of Appeal.

43-year-old Robert O'Leary, of Clancy Road, Finglas in Dublin, had pleaded not guilty but was convicted at the Special Criminal Court in October 2020 and sentenced to three years in prison.

The trial heard he had supplied a Skoda Octavia car used by the New IRA when they placed a bomb under a PSNI officer's Jeep at Shandon Park Golf Club in Belfast on June 2019.

However, it subsequently emerged that Mr O’Leary’s defence team were not told the chief prosecution witness at the trial, Nik Kasapi, was a drug dealer.

Kasapi, the defence said, had pleaded guilty to two counts of being in possession of drugs for sale or supply at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court in May 2016 and was sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison.

Kasapi, aka Armin Kasapovic, was also named in the legal papers as the owner of a company called Millennium Motors and was wanted in Montenegro for drug offences involving the sale or supply of €2m worth of cannabis.

It was claimed that this information was withheld from the defence despite repeated requests for disclosure.

"If these facts had been known in advance of trial, they would have impacted on the witness’s credibility," the defence submission stated.

The Director of Public Prosecutions did not oppose the application and the Court of Appeal will decide if Mr O'Leary, who has been in jail for the past 15 months, should face a retrial. He was released on bail.

The Court President Mr Justice Birmingham said the circumstances which led to the DPP deciding not to oppose an application to have a conviction overturned were "unusual" and the case should now be investigated.

"A situation where a witness has a previous conviction and this conviction is not disclosed is an unsatisfactory one," he said.