'Officer failed to tell hearing of ex-IRA chief's admission'

A senior police officer did not tell a bail hearing that an ex-IRA chief charged over a violent kidnapping implicated himself in the crime under questioning, a court heard today.

Brendan McFarlane is alleged to have told officers investigating the 1983 abduction of supermarket boss Don Tidey he was at the wooded hideaway where the businessman had been held captive.

However, the former IRA boss, who was arrested in January 1998, denied he ever made the statement or claimed to detectives he was prepared for the worst when quizzed at Dundalk Garda Station.

His barrister Hugh Hartnett SC told Dublin’s Special Criminal Court today that during his client’s bail application some days after his arrest officers made no mention of alleged admissions.

Mr Hartnett said then Detective Superintendent John McElligott of the National Bureau of Criminal Investigation (NBCI) only mentioned fingerprint evidence against his client.

“At no stage did he ever make the case that there was an admission,” Mr Hartnett said.

“Why did Supt McElligott, as he was then, when asked what the strength of the evidence of the case against the accused man, say fingerprint evidence and not mention the verbal.”

Taking the stand yesterday for the first time in his trial McFarlane, of Jamaica Street, Belfast, accused detectives of making up the admissions.

In his application to the three-judge non-jury court Mr Hartnett also said some of the officers involved in questioning McFarlane, 56, had been criticised in past cases for their interviewing techniques.

“I ask you to take into consideration that some of the gardaí involved have been criticised in the past,” Mr Hartnett said.

“These are issues to which there is no easy answer... But these are issues which the court must face.”


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