Supreme Court clears way for McFarlane kidnap trial

THE Supreme Court has cleared the way for the trial of Maze Prison escapee Brendan “Bik” McFarlane on charges connected with the 1983 kidnapping of supermarket boss Don Tidey.

The five judge court yesterday unanimously dismissed an appeal by McFarlane against the High Court’s refusal to stop his trial.

It is now expected the DPP will apply for a trial date before the non-jury Special Criminal Court.

McFarlane, aged 52, a father-of-three, of Jamaica Street, Belfast, was charged in January 1998 with falsely imprisoning Mr Tidey and having a firearm with intent to endanger life at Derrada Wood, Ballinamore, Co Leitrim, in November and December 1983.

Mr Tidey was kidnapped by an IRA gang in 1983 and rescued after 23 days in captivity. A trainee Garda, Gary Sheehan, the Defence Forces’ Private Patrick Kelly, were killed in a shoot out with the kidnappers when Mr Tidey was rescued.

McFarlane was jailed in 1975 for his part in the IRA bombing of a bar on the Shankill Road in which five people were killed. He escaped in the mass break out by 38 prisoners from the Maze Prison in September, 1983, was arrested in Amsterdam in January, 1986, extradited to the North and released on parole from the Maze in 1997.

He was arrested by gardaí in 1998, initiated his first judicial review challenge in 1999, and is on bail pending the outcome of the legal actions.

In his judgment yesterday, Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns said, after a detailed analysis of the litigation in the ten years since 1998, McFarlane had not established blameworthy systemic or prosecutorial delay and, even if there was such delay, McFarlane had not demonstrated any actual resulting prejudice such as breached his right to a fair trial.

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