15 May 2006

Garda bids to stop his trial on Omagh bomb perjury charge

Irish Independent

**Via Newshound

Ann O Loughlin
13 May 2006

A DETECTIVE garda yesterday went to court in a bid to stop his trial on perjury charges relating to evidence given by him during the trial of Colm Murphy on charges connected to the Omagh bombing.

Det Gda Liam Donnelly claims his right to a fair trial has been prejudiced.

The High Court yesterday heard that the detective is claiming his right to a fair trial has been prejudiced because of a number of factors. They include the non-availability of some evidence which a forensic expert had given to Mr Murphy's trial relating to his technical analysis on Garda notes of an interview with Mr Murphy.

Having carried out an examination of certain documents, the expert had testified that a page of a memorandum was falsified.

However, one of the original documents on which he had based that conclusion is now missing and this is among the reasons why Det Donnelly contends he cannot receive a fair trial on the perjury charge.

Det Donnelly also claims the delay in bringing the prosecution has caused him prejudice, personal stress and anxiety.

In opposing the garda's application for the DPP, Paul O'Higgins SC rejected the detective's argument and said the non-availability of the writing analysis document was not the fault of the prosecution team.

While there had been some prosecutorial delay, it was not such as to create the risk of an unfair trial, counsel also submitted.

Mr O'Higgins also said Det Donnelly's application should be refused on grounds of the detective's own delay in bringing his judicial review proceedings.

Det Donnelly was outside the three-month time limit in bringing his case, which was not initiated until November 2005, although the return for trial was in January that year, counsel for the DPP said.

Having heard from both sides, Mr Justice Iarfhlaith O'Neill said he would reserve his judgment in the case to Tuesday next.

Both Det Donnelly and another Det Gda, John Fahy, were each returned for trial in January 2005 on perjury charges before Dublin Circuit Criminal Court relating to crucial evidence they gave during the Colm Murphy trial.

A trial date has been fixed for October 16th next.

Both gardai, who were members of the Carrickmacross-based team of gardai who interviewed Mr Murphy, have denied the charges being brought against them by the DPP.

Both gardai face two counts each of falsely swearing evidence during the trial of Mr Murphy on dates between October 18 and November 15, 2001. He was convicted in the non-jury Special Criminal Court in January 2002 of conspiring to cause an explosion.

A retrial was subsequently ordered by the Court of Criminal Appeal after it quashed the conviction on two grounds, including the Special Criminal Court's approach to the alteration of Garda interview notes and the evidence given by the two officers.

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