Maze escapee Bik McFarlane faces kidnapping trial

Maze prison escapee went on trial at the Special Criminal Court in Dublin today for the 1983 kidnapping of supermarket boss Don Tidey during which a trainee garda and soldier were killed.

Mc Farlane (aged 56),a father of three, of Jamaica St in Belfast pleaded not guilty to falsely imprisoning Mr Tidey in 1983 and with possession of a firearm with intent to endanger life at Derrada Wood, Ballinamore, Co Leitrim in November and December 1983.

Prosecuting counsel Mr Edward Comyn SC told the court that Mr Tidey was kidnapped as he drove his daughter to school from their home at Woodtown in south Dublin. He was taken at gunpoint to a hideout in Derrada Woods in Co Leitrim.

Mr Comyn said that in the rescue operation there was `"a raging battle" between the kidnappers and the security forces and a trainee garda and soldier were killed.

He said the evidence against Mc Farlane would be that his fingerprints were found on a milk carton, plastic container and cooking pot found at the hideout and on certain things said by Mc Farlane after his arrest by gardaí in 1998.

Mr Comyn said that nobody has been before the courts for the kidnap or for the events at the rescue in which the garda and soldier died.

Mc Farlane had been in prison at the Maze since 1975 for his part in the IRA bombing of a bar on the Shankill Road in which five people were killed.

He was the OC (officer commanding) of the Provisional IRA prisoners at the Maze prison at the time of the hunger strike in 1981 and escaped in the mass break out by 38 prisoners from the jail in September, 1983.

He was later arrested in Amsterdam in January, 1986, extradited to Northern Ireland and released on parole from the Maze in 1997. He was arrested by gardaí outside Dundalk in January, 1998 as he travelled back to Belfast from Dublin following a trip to Copenhagen.

Supermarket executive Don Tidey was kidnapped by an IRA gang in 1983 and rescued after 23 days in captivity. A trainee garda, Gary Sheehan (aged 23) of Carrickmacross, Co Monaghan and a member of the Defence Forces, Private Patrick Kelly (aged 35), from Moate, Co Westmeath were killed in a shoot out with the kidnap gang when Mr Tidey was rescued.


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