A 41-year-old man who walked free from court yesterday on charges of withholding information about the murder of Real IRA terror chief Alan Ryan is under constant death threat from Ryan's associates, the Herald can reveal.
Gardai have received information about a number of credible threats to Thomas Hunt since he was first brought before the courts on the charge in October, 2012.
Hunt, whose address is given as Donnycarney, north Dublin, first received threats when he appeared at Dublin District Court on October 21, 2012, when a close pal of Alan Ryan said he "should be f***ing shot".
Sources said that gardai have mounted a number of operations to keep Mr Hunt alive, but he is still the subject of major threats.
Judge Catherine Murphy ruled yesterday that telephone records held on a mainframe computer could not be relied on as evidence because there was no evidence that the computer was operating correctly at the relevant time.
The trial heard that it was the State's case that Mr Hunt was the owner of a mobile telephone that was used to buy the car later used in the murder.
Hunt had pleaded not guilty to withholding information on dates between September 3 and October 23, 2012, which might have been of material assistance in securing the apprehension, prosecution or conviction of a person for the murder of Ryan.
At the start of the trial the defence told the jury that he was making a number of admissions on behalf of his client.
He said it was accepted that the gunman ran to a Volvo S40 which was then driven by another man to Balgriffin Cottages where the Volvo was abandoned and set on fire. The gunman and driver then got into a Punto and escaped.
The defence said his client accepts that the Volvo was parked near Grange Lodge Avenue from September 1, 2012.
In its opening speech, the prosecution told the jury that the car used and later found burned out was traced to a last registered owner.
The owner had placed the car for sale on the Donedeal website and on August 25 a man telephoned him from a mobile number.
The prosecution said it was alleged that this number was Mr Hunt's and that he was the person who went on to buy the car for €3,000.
After the shooting gardai arrested Mr Hunt and asked him to say who he had passed the car on to. During these garda interviews Mr Hunt denied that he had purchased the car.
Judge Murphy noted that an engineer from Meteor gave evidence for the prosecution that he had working knowledge of the Meteor computer system but not of the mainframe computer from where the records were held and this led to legal argument and ultimately the State withdrawing its charge.