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Omagh suspect's phones used in atrocity, court told

THE re-trial of a building contractor charged over the Omagh bomb atrocity yesterday heard he provided two mobile phones used by terrorists plotting the Real IRA massacre.

Colm Murphy was the only person to be convicted over the 1998 attack when the Special Criminal Court jailed him for 14 years for conspiracy to cause an explosion.

He was freed on appeal four years ago. In the first day of his re-trial in Dublin, state prosecutors claimed that while Murphy did not know where the bomb was being planted, he gave the terror gang his phone and one he borrowed from some one else.

"He entered into a conspiracy with another person... to lend two mobile phones to a person he knew or who he contemplated wanted these phones to carry out a bombing run in Northern Ireland," prosecutor Tom O'Connell said.

"The prosecution contends the explosion to which he lent his aid was in fact the explosion in Omagh." Murphy, a builder and publican from Jordan's Corner, Ravensdale, Dundalk, Co Louth, sat quietly at the side of the courtroom during the opening day's hearing, wearing a grey pin-stripe suit, navy polkadot tie and light blue shirt. The 57-year-old denies the charge.


His lawyers objected to graphic details of the bomb's aftermath being detailed in court, claiming Murphy was unaware Omagh was the target.

The attack on the Co Tyrone market town killed 29 people, including a woman pregnant with twins, and left hundreds more injured and severely traumatised.The only other man to face criminal charges over the Omagh killings -- Sean Hoey, an electrician from Jonesborough, South Armagh -- was acquitted by a Belfast court in December 2007.

Outlining the case against Murphy at the three-judge non-jury court, Mr O'Connell said the prosecution would be relying on three key aspects.

These include admissions Murphy gave while in police custody as well as evidence which places his phone in Banbridge, Co Down, on the day a car bomb was detonated by the Real IRA in the town two weeks before the Omagh blast.

There will also be evidence of phone traffic between a mobile borrowed by Murphy and his own mobile, which was being used by a suspected dissident terrorist, on the day of the massacre .

Murphy had his conviction quashed by the Court of Criminal Appeal in January 2005 after serving three years of a 14-year sentence.

The conviction was found unsafe because the Special Criminal Court did not give proper regard to garda interview notes which were altered.

The trial continues.

Irish Independent