‘Shortcomings’ in Omagh evidence


Richard Moore

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'Shortcomings' in Omagh evidence

There were "shortcomings" in the handling of evidence against a man accused of 
involvement in the Omagh bombing, Belfast Crown Court has heard.

Sean Gerard Hoey of Jonesborough, County Armagh, is facing 58 charges.

Part of the prosecution case relies on drawing similarities in construction of 
devices used in other attacks with the Omagh case and linking them to Mr Hoey.

However, the markings attached to items seized appeared to be inconsistent with 
accompanying paperwork.

The prosecution lawyer spent much of the afternoon cross-examining witnesses 
from the security forces and a scenes of crime officer about the labelling of 
exhibits following a mortar attack on a watch tower in 1998.

The case against Mr Hoey, 37, of Molly Road, Jonesborough, resumed on Monday 
after being adjourned earlier this month.

He denies involvement in the bombing in August 1998 in which 29 people died, 
including a woman pregnant with twins.

The totality of the evidence will persuade the court of his criminal involvement
in the connected series of explosions

Gordon Kerr QC

A prosecution lawyer told Belfast Crown Court the accused faced 58 terror 
charges to which he pleaded not guilty.

Gordon Kerr QC said the case arose from a series of bomb attacks and attempted 
bombings during 1998.

He said the prosecution would maintain these were part of a violent campaign 
conducted by dissident republicans "who had not accepted the cessation of the 
terror campaign leading up to and following the Good Friday Agreement".

'DNA evidence'

Mr Kerr said the prosecution would attempt to show that a number of the devices 
used could be connected, not only by the manner of their construction and 
materials used, but also by fibre and DNA evidence.

"The prosecution will say that both DNA evidence and fibre evidence connecting 
the defendant to this series of attacks will show his involvement in them and 
that the totality of the evidence will persuade the court of his criminal 
involvement in the connected series of explosions," he said.

He said three telephoned warnings before the Omagh bomb, including one to the 
media using a previously-used codeword, were "not only wrong but were 

"In fact it will be submitted that it is proper to infer that the warnings as 
given were such as to make it inevitable that any evacuation was to the very 
area of the parked car bomb," he said.

"If the bombers genuinely wished to avoid the certain deaths and injury which 
they knew would occur by placing a large car bomb on a busy shopping street, 
they could easily have given a description of the vehicle and an accurate 
description of its location as had been done by them before.

"In fact they did neither."

The proceedings are being broadcast in Omagh for the victims' families, under 
the same rules as would apply in court.

The link, between Belfast Crown Court and Omagh College was set up at the 
request of a relatives' support group and will be available for the duration of 
the trial.

Court rules

Before the trial began, the judge told the court the television link facility 
was "solely" for the use of the victims and their relatives, and the same rules 
would apply as if they were in court in Belfast.

"That means there will be silence in the room, no telephones may be switched on 
and there will be no notes, photographs or sketches made," Mr Justice Weir said.

He added: "If the link fails which, unfortunately in my experience may happen, 
every effort will be made to restore it promptly but the hearing will continue 
uninterrupted and will only be connected while the court is actually sitting."

Relatives had expressed disappointment when the trial was adjourned minutes 
after opening on 6 September.

The case was stopped after a defence lawyer said he was unwell.

Mr Hoey faces 58 charges including five other bombings, four bomb conspiracies, 
and six murder conspiracies.

The only person to be charged with murder in connection with the bombing, the 
accused has been in custody for about three years.

Story from BBC NEWS:


Published: 2006/09/25 17:01:26 GMT


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