Man charged with Omagh bombing begins appeal

The Supreme Court has commenced hearing an appeal brought on the behalf of 54-year-old building contractor Colm Murphy aimed at stopping his re-trial on a conspiracy charge connected with the Real IRA Omagh bombing in which 29 people died.

Last October at the High Court Mr Justice Iarfhlaith O'Neill refused Mr Murphy's application to prevent his re-trial, which is due to be held before the non-jury Special Criminal Court.

Mr Murphy claims that his prosecution should not be allowed go ahead on grounds including that the delay in bringing proceedings has prejudiced his right to a fair and speedy trial.

Mr Murphy a building contractor and publican who is a native of Co Armagh but with an address at Jordan's Corner, Ravensdale, Co Louth appealed that decision to the Supreme Court. The DPP is opposing Mr Murphy's application.

The appeal is being heard by a five judge Supreme Court, consisting of the Chief Justice Mr John Murray, Mr Justice Hugh Geoghegan, Mr Justice Adrian Hardiman, Mr Justice Nial Fennelly and Mr Justice Joseph Finnegan.

Opening the appeal today Counsel for Mr Murphy Michael O'Higgins SC said that the High Court had fallen into error by holding that the delays did not breach his client's rights.

Yesterday's hearing was adjourned and will resume at a later date.

Mr Murphy was freed on bail in 2005 after the Court of Criminal Appeal quashed his conviction and 14-year sentence for a conspiracy offence connected with the Real IRA bombing of Omagh in 1998.

Twenty nine people, including a pregnant woman with twins, died as a result of the act.

The appeal court overturned the conviction and ordered a retrial, which was due to begin last January after finding that the court of trial - the non-jury Special Criminal Court - had failed to give proper regard to altered Garda interview notes.

It found there had been "an invasion of the presumption of innocence" in the SCC judgment on Mr Murphy.

During his 25-day trial in 2001 and 2002, Mr Murphy had pleaded not guilty to conspiring in Dundalk with another person not before the court to cause an explosion in the State or elsewhere between August 13 and 16, 1998.

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