08 January 2006

Plea to OJ witness to help Omagh suspect

Sunday Life

Exclusive by Stephen Breen
08 January 2006

A TOP American forensic expert - who gave evidence at the murder trial of OJ Simpson - could be called as a defence witness in the Omagh bomb case.

Sunday Life can reveal that legendary investigator Dr Henry Lee has been approached by lawyers acting for Sean Hoey, who is facing 61 charges over the worst single atrocity of the Troubles.

A senior legal source told us Hoey's solicitors, Kevin Winters & Co, wrote to the leading scientist last year in a bid to highlight their client's case.

The firm hopes Dr Lee, who also reviewed the assassination of US President John F Kennedy, can be persuaded to assist their defence.

Dr Lee, who has been a forensic scientist for over 40 years, is now considering the request.

Although Dr Lee has prior engagements until June, Hoey's lawyers hope he can come to Belfast after a trial date has been set.

This latest development comes after the Omagh bomb accused's mum, Rita Hoey, sent letters to human rights groups around the world to voice, what she claims, are serious "concerns" about the case.

Said the legal source: "Correspondence has been made with Dr Lee's office by Hoey's solicitors but nothing has been confirmed yet.

"He is obviously famous for the OJ Simpson trial, but he has also been involved in countless other trials around the world.

"Hoey's team are pulling out all the stops in preparation for their defence of what is sure to be the biggest trial in Northern Ireland's legal history.

"It will be interesting to see if the doctor takes up the offer because he is certainly no stranger to high-profile murder cases."

We contacted Hoey's solicitor, but he refused to comment on the development. We also attempted to contact Dr Lee, but he was not available.

Dr Lee has helped investigate more than 6,000 cases, including the suicide of President Bill Clinton's former White House attorney, Vince Foster.

He is also the founder of the Forensic Science Programme at the University of New Haven and the author of 30 books.

Hoey (35), an unemployed electrician from Molly Road, Jonesborough, is charged with 29 counts of murder.

A date for his trial is expected to be announced early this year.

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