04 April 2006

Trial date set in Tidey kidnap case


04/04/2006 - 12:23:06

The Special Criminal Court today fixed a date in October for the trial of Maze prison escaper Brendan "Bik" McFarlane on charges connected with the 1983 kidnap of supermarket boss Don Tidey.

Last month the Supreme Court cleared the way for the trial upholding an appeal by the Director of Public Prosecution against an earlier High Court order to stop McFarlane's trial going ahead at the Special Criminal Court.

McFarlane (aged 52), of Jamaica St in Belfast was charged in January 1998 with falsely imprisoning Mr Don Tidey in 1983 and with possession of a firearm with intent to endanger life at Derrada Wood, Ballinamore, Co Leitrim in November and December 1983.

McFarlane had been in prison at the Maze since 1975 for his part in the IRA bombing of a bar on the Shankill Road in which five people were killed.

He was the leader of the Provisional IRA prisoners at the Maze prison and escaped in the mass break out by 38 prisoners from the jail in September, 1983. He was later arrested in Amsterdam in January, 1986, extradited to the North and released on parole from the Maze in 1997. He was arrested by gardaí outside Dundalk in January , 1998.

Supermarket executive Don Tidey was kidnapped by an IRA gang in 1983 and rescued after 23 days in captivity. A trainee garda, Gary Sheehan, and a member of the Defence Forces, Private Patrick Kelly, were killed in a shoot-out with the kidnap gang when Mr Tidey was rescued.

Today, the Special Criminal Court fixed October 3 as the date for McFarlane's trial.

His counsel, Mr Stephen Mc Cann BL, told the court that following the Supreme Court decision his lawyers intended to make a fresh application for judicial review of the case at the High Court in the next law term.

He said that the original judicial review proceedings began in 1999 and only concluded last month.

The High Court made an order in July 2003 preventing the DPP from proceeding with McFarlane's trial at the non-jury Special Criminal Court because certain exhibits from which fingerprint evidence was taken had gone missing and were not available for inspection by McFarlane or his lawyers.

The Supreme Court was told that the case against McFarlane consists of fingerprint evidence and certain alleged admissions made by him to gardaí after his arrest.

McFarlane has been remanded on bail since his arrest in 1998 pending the outcome of various legal challenges to his trial.

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