Michael McKevitt had appealed the conviction and 20-year prison sentence he received five years ago on more than 30 grounds including several challenging the credibility of the state’s key witness FBI agent David Rupert, a New Yorker who infiltrated the Real IRA.
Yesterday the five-judge court, comprising chief Justice John Murray, Ms Justice Susan Denham, Mr Justice Adrian Hardiman, and Mr Justice Nial Fennelly unanimously agreed with Mr Justice Hugh Geoghegan’s judgment that McKevitt’s conviction was safe and the appeal should be struck out.
McKevitt, aged 54, of Beech Park, Blackrock, Co Louth, appealed against his conviction by the Special Criminal Court (SCC) in August 2003 for organising terrorist activities for the Real IRA. He is the first person in the state jailed for directing terrorist activities.
In his appeal, McKevitt’s legal team claimed the SCC failed to address Mr Rupert’s involvement in criminal activity. It was also argued there was inadequate disclosure of documentary evidence relevant to Mr Rupert’s credibility from authorities outside the state.
It was also argued that there had been piecemeal and late disclosure of material, including Garda surveillance records, which prejudiced McKevitt’s right to a fair trial.
Mr Justice Geoghegan held that there was “abundant evidence that [the] Special Criminal Court was fully mindful of the potential unreliability of Mr Rupert’s evidence but nevertheless believed him”.
He ruled that the claim that material disclosed at a late stage rendered the trial so unfair that the conviction should be quashed as “far fetched in the extreme”.