Monday 27 March 2017

McFarlane awarded €15,000 over kidnap prosecution

Maze prison escapee Brendan "Bik" McFarlane was today awarded €15,000 over his prosecution for the kidnap of supermarket boss Don Tidey.

McFarlane, 59, was cleared in Dublin's Special Criminal Court in 2008 of false imprisonment and firearms possession in relation to the businessman's 23-day hostage ordeal in 1983.

McFarlane had already launched a challenge to the case in the European Court of Human Rights when he was acquitted in June 2006.

The Court ruled in favour of the former IRA commander in the Maze and found the 10-and-a-half-year wait from his arrest in 1998 until he walked free was excessive.

The ECHR ordered the Irish state to pay McFarlane €5,500 damages and €10,000 costs and expenses.

The west Belfast republican's appeal centred on four grounds - that authorities delayed bringing criminal proceedings and because of this key prosecution evidence was lost and there was a lack of evidence other than questionable police interviews.

McFarlane also claimed his arrest and detention was a deliberate and disproportionate interference with his private and family life and that there was no effective remedy under Irish law for his grievances.

The Court found: "While the conduct of the applicant had contributed somewhat to the delay, it did not explain the overall length of the proceedings against him."

It added: "The Court concluded that the overall length of the criminal proceedings against the applicant were excessive."

In a 60-page judgment, the Strasbourg court also ruled there was no suitable legal avenue in Ireland for McFarlane to deal with his grievances.

The court dismissed McFarlane's claims there wasn't enough evidence to prosecute, noting that he had already secured an acquittal and also rejected claims his private life had been damaged, ruling that the complaint was out of time.

McFarlane was accused of kidnapping Mr Tidey after going on the run following the Maze prison escape in 1983.

He denied any involvement.

Mr Tidey was snatched outside his south Dublin home and held captive for more than three weeks in a wooded hideaway while ransom demands were issued.

A trainee Garda, 23-year-old Gary Sheehan, from Carrickmacross, Co Monaghan, and Patrick Kelly, 35, an army private, were both shot dead during Mr Tidey's dramatic rescue in December near Ballinamore, Co Leitrim.

McFarlane had been the Provisional IRA's commander in the Maze when 38 inmates led a mass breakout three months earlier.

He was arrested on a bus to Belfast from Dublin in 1998 having been released on parole from a prison sentence he served in the North for his role in an IRA bombing in the 1970s.

He had gone to Europe in a bid to stop the trial.

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