Murphy launches new legal challenge to Omagh retrial

Colm Murphy has launched a new legal challenge to his retrial on a conspiracy charge connected with the 1998 Real IRA bombing in Omagh in which 29 people, including a woman pregnant with twins, died.

Colm Murphy has launched a new legal challenge to his retrial on a conspiracy charge connected with the 1998 Real IRA bombing in Omagh in which 29 people, including a woman pregnant with twins, died.

The High Court last October cleared the way for Murphy's retrial after it refused an application to halt the trial.

Today, Murphy's solicitor Mr Michael Finucane told the Special Criminal Court that appeal papers were lodged with the Supreme Court last month and they are now awaiting a date for the hearing of the appeal against the High Court decision.

Murphy was in court for the brief hearing and was remanded on continuing bail until March 14 next year when the case will be mentioned again.

Murphy (aged 54), a building contractor and publican who is a native of Co Armagh but with an address at Jordan's Corner, Ravensdale, Co Louth, was freed on bail in 2005 after the Court of Criminal Appeal quashed his conviction for conspiracy offences connected with the Real IRA bombing which killed 29 people, including a woman pregnant with twins, and injured more than 300 people.

Murphy was jailed for 14 years by the Special Criminal Court in January 2002 for his alleged role in the Omagh bomb . He was the first person to be convicted in either the Republic or Northern Ireland in connection with the Real IRA bombing, the worst terrorist atrocity in the history of the thirty years of the northern troubles.

But in January 2005 the Court of Criminal Appeal overturned the conviction and ordered a retrial after finding that the court of trial had failed to give proper regard to altered garda interview notes and that there had been ``an invasion of the presumption of innocence'' in the judgment on Murphy.

During a 25-day trial in 2001 and 2002, 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.

In a reserved judgment last October Mr Justice Iarfhlaith O'Neill refused Mr Murphy's application to halt the retrial. While there had been delay in the case, the judge said he was satisfied this had not breached Murphy's rights either under the Constitution or European Convention on Human Rights.

While there was delay in bringing the proceedings on behalf of the DPP or the State against Mr Murphy, the prosecution was a difficult one and a considerable volume of material had to be prepared and furnished to the applicant, the judge said.

The judge also held that Murphy's memory problems had not affected his ability to recall relevant events, in particular his participation in interviews with gardaí, and to instruct his legal team accordingly.

The judge concluded "there was nothing" in the medical evidence before the court "that gave rise to a concern that Mr Murphy's memory impairment is such that he cannot now have a fair trial". He also rejected arguments that the prosecution should be prohibited because of the levels of stress and anxiety that Mr Murphy suffers from.

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