A retired Detective Inspector has told the Special Criminal Court in Dublin of how Donald Tidey was rescued from terrorist kidnappers in Co Leitrim in 1983 after a three-week ordeal.
Maze prison escaper Brendan ‘Bik’ McFarlane is facing a number of charges in relation to the kidnapping of the business man.
On day three of the trial, retired Detective Inspector William Somers told Mr Edward Comyn SC, prosecuting, that he was in charge of a search party for Mr Tidey in the Ballinamore area.
The search had been going on for a number of days when on Friday December 16, 1983 Det Insp Somers’ armed search party, coded named “Rudolph One”, arrived at Derrada Wood.
Det Insp Somers told the court that he heard heavy gun fire coming from a small wooded area. He saw members of another search party lying on the side of a hill. They had “flushed out the terrorists” and were coming under fire.
Det Insp Somers said he radioed for help and then saw someone coming through a ditch.
“The first thing I saw was a person in green combat gear coming through a ditch and I thought it was one of the terrorists making a break”.
Det Insp Somers realised the person was Mr Tidey whom he recognised despite his “bad condition” and clothing.
Det Insp Somers was calming Mr Tidey, assuring him he was in safe hands and that help was on the way when he saw a blue car driving towards them. As the car passed them at high speed, the driver opened fire.
Det Insp Somers pulled Mr Tidey to the ground but Detective Garda Donal Kelleher was shot in the legs.
The car sped off around a corner but came up against a garda check point and further gun fire was exchanged.
“The ground reverberated with the amount of fire power”, he said.
Det Insp Somers put a bulletproof vest on Mr Tidey and got him into a car which drove him to safety.
McFarlane (aged 56) escaped from the Maze prison in September 1983. He is a father of three with an address at Jamaica St, Belfast. He was arrested outside Dundalk and charged in January 1998.
He has pleaded not guilty to falsely imprisoning Donald James Tidey on dates unknown between November 24 and December 16, 1983.
He also denied possession of a firearm with intent to endanger life at Derrada Wood, Drumcronan, Ballinamore, Co Leitrim between November 25 and December 16, 1983 and possession of a firearm for an unlawful purpose between the same dates.
The trial continues.