07 March 2006

Maze escapee to face kidnap trial


**See also Break-out 1983

07/03/2006 - 12:51:30

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usThe Maze Prison escapee Brendan ‘Bik’ McFarlane is set to face trial in connection with the kidnapping of a supermarket boss in 1983 after a Supreme Court judgement went against him today.

The former IRA member was arrested by gardaí in 1998 and charged with possession of a firearm with intention to endanger life, unlawful possession of a firearm, and falsely imprisoning supermarket chief executive Don Tidy near Ballinamore, County Leitrim.

His original trial at the Special Criminal Court collapsed because three exhibits discovered at the scene allegedly holding his fingerprints – a milk carton, a plastic container and a cooking pot – were lost by gardaí.

But at the Supreme Court in Dublin today, Mr Justice Adrien Hardiman, presiding, overturned that decision following an appeal from the Director of Public Prosecutions.

He said he was allowing the appeal by the DPP because the result of the forensic analysis of the three items had been preserved and photographed.

“A significantly different situation would arise if this independent comparison were not possible,” he said.

“No attempt has been made in the present case to suggest that meaningful comparison is not possible, using the photographs, or that any additional advantage might have accrued to the defendant (McFarlane) on the basis of a comparison with the actual mark made on the item as opposed to photographs of them.”

The only member of the five-judge court to dissent from the ruling was Mr Justice Nicholas Donnelly, who upheld the Special Criminal Court’s ruling in his separate judgment.

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