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Tuesday 12 December 2017

Murphy acquitted in Omagh bomb conspiracy trial

Colm Murphy, the only man ever convicted over the Omagh bombing, was cleared today for a second time of plotting to cause the attack.

Murphy was found guilty of conspiracy to cause the 1998 Real IRA atrocity which killed 29 people and injured more than 300 but later cleared on appeal.

The builder, who was facing a retrial at the non-jury Special Criminal Court in Dublin, walked free today after three judges ruled there was no evidence with which he could be convicted.

Murphy, a 57-year-old native of Co Armagh, with an address at Jordan's Corner, Ravensdale, Co Louth, had pleaded not guilty to conspiring with another person to cause an explosion likely to endanger life or cause serious injury to property in the State or elsewhere between August 13 and 16 1998.

Murphy had been on bail since his successful appeal in 2005.

The prosecution claimed he lent two mobile phones to a man who was involved in transporting the car bomb from Castleblayney, Co Monaghan, to the Co Tyrone market town, where it exploded on August 15.

The Real IRA later claimed responsibility for the bomb attack, the worst terrorist atrocity in the history of the Troubles.

Murphy was originally convicted of the charge in 2002 but the Irish Court of Criminal Appeal quashed the conviction and ordered a retrial in 2005.

He is the second man to be acquitted. Sean Hoey, a South Armagh electrician, walked free from Belfast Crown Court in December 2007 after a judge cleared him of all charges related to the bombing and a host of other Real IRA attacks.

Last June, relatives of the Omagh bomb victims won a landmark civil action against four men they blamed for the attack. Murphy was one of them.

The others - former Real IRA leader Michael McKevitt, Liam Campbell, who is on trial in Lithuania over a plot to buy arms for the terror group, and Seamus Daly - were found to be responsible for the bombing by a judge in a landmark civil case brought by victims' families at Belfast High Court.

A fifth man accused by the relatives, Seamus McKenna, was cleared of any liability in the case.

But Mr Justice Paul Butler, presiding at the Special Criminal Court in Dublin, ruled today that the evidence relating to interviews by members of An Garda Siochana with Murphy was inadmissible.

The Supreme Court previously found notes by two of the interviewing gardai had been falsified, leading to a quashing of Mr Murphy's first conviction.

Press Association

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