Judge rejects legal bid to have core element of Crown case in long-running terrorist trial thrown out
A SENIOR judge has rejected a legal bid to have a core element of the Crown case in a long-running terrorist trial thrown out.
Lurgan man Colin Duffy (57), along with 55-year old Henry Fitzsimons and Alec McCrory (60), have been charged with offenses including IRA membership and directing a terrorist organisation. The charges arise from covert recordings made in the wake of a gun attack on a police patrol in north Belfast in December 2013.
Duffy, whose address was given as Maghaberry, Fitzsimons from Dunmore Mews in Belfast and McCrory from Sliabh Dubh View in Belfast deny all the offenses and a trial commenced at in the city’s Crown Court in March 2019.
Due to reasons including the pandemic, adjournments and legal applications, the trial has not sat for over a year. In his ruling on the most recent legal application, Mr Justice O’Hara rejected a bid to have most of the evidence thrown out. He did, however, excluded a portion where police attributed words they claim were spoken by each of the three in an audio recording onto a transcript which was later considered by experts linked to the trial.
During the non-jury hearing, audio recordings and footage was played of three men walking in the Demesne Lane area of Lurgan the day after the gun attack. The covert recordings were captured on devices planted by the security services in the park and it’s the Crown’s case that the trio are Duffy, Fitzsimons and McCrory who discuss the shooting in Belfast.
The recordings are critical to the prosecution and a defense application was made on the grounds that it had to be proven that the recordings were authentic – and if this was not proved, the Crown case could therefore not be proven.
Mr Justice O’Hara said: