29 May 2006

Det. Chief Supt. Philip Kelly's opinion concerning accused


29/05/2006 - 17:16:03

A Detective Chief Superintendent has told the Special Criminal Court he formed the opinion that a Dublin man was a member of the IRA when the accused was approximately 15 years old.

Det. Chief Supt. Philip Kelly, who heads up the Special Detective Unit, was giving evidence in the trial of Vincent Kelly, now 21, who was arrested when gardaí found a handgun hidden inside a van stopped on the Malahide Road in north Dublin in June last year.

Mr Kelly of Empress Place, Ballybough, Dublin has pleaded not guilty to membership of an unlawful organisation styling itself the Irish Republican Army, otherwise Oglaigh na hEireann, otherwise the IRA on June 7, 2005.

Det Chief Supt. Kelly told Mr Tom O’Connell SC, prosecuting, that based on confidential information available to him, he believed Mr Kelly was a member of an illegal organisation styling itself the IRA on June 7, 2005.

He said he did not base his belief on any of the investigations, admissions or actions of the accused at that particular time.

Under cross-examination by Mr Diarmuid McGuinness SC, defending, the witness said he had formed his opinion approximately six years before that date and agreed that Mr Kelly would then have been 14 or 15 years old.

He said he believed Mr Kelly continues to be a member of the IRA. The witness told Mr McGuinness that he had not spoken to the DPP for the purposes of getting a direction on the charge against Mr Kelly and he said he did not convey to the DPP the basis on which he had formed his opinion.

Det. Chief Supt. Kelly told the court he was claiming privilege over the information available to him, because he said if he disclosed it, it could damage other security operations against the IRA and would also endanger life.

Detective Sergeant Donal Prenty from the Special Detective Unit at Harcourt Square gave evidence of conducting a number of interviews with Mr Kelly on June 9, 2005, in which he denied he was a member of the IRA.

In the final interview which commenced at 8.38pm that day he agreed Mr Kelly had told him that he was exercising his right to silence.

The accused made no reply when it was put to him that he was part of an IRA unit involved in extorting money from drug dealers in the Dublin area.

He again stated that he was not a member of an illegal organisation and agreed the IRA was such an organisation.

Det. Sgt Prenty said the note was read over to Mr Kelly who declined to sign it. He agreed with Mr McGuinness, for Mr Kelly, that apart from the questions his client would not answer under legal advice, he had denied membership of the IRA at virtually every opportunity when this was put to him.

The trial at the three-judge court over which Mr Justice Richard Johnson is presiding, continues tomorrow.

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