Decision on Omagh bomb trial due
Decision on Omagh bomb trial due

A magistrate will rule tomorrow on whether South Armagh man Sean Hoey should stand trial for the murders of the 29 people killed in the Omagh bomb of 1998.

During submissions on the final day of the committal hearing today [Thursday], the Crown claimed the evidence against the Jonesborough man was “circumstantial but cumulative”.

Gordon Kerr QC said it was the Crown’s case that Mr Hoey had been the maker of the timing power units in the bombs used by the Real IRA in 1998. The Crown argued that this must have included the Omagh bomb, which exploded with devastating effect in the County Tyrone town of Omagh on August 14, 1998. Phoned-in warnings failed to result in the clearance of the correct area of the town.

“We say it is common sense that in an illegal organisation you are not going to be dealing with a large population of timer power unit makers,” he said.

Kerr claimed that Mr Hoey could be linked to another ‘Real IRA’ bomb by DNA and fibres which had been planted in County Tyrone in 2001.

A voice expert also claimed a voice in one of the warning phone-calls to the emergency services about one of the bombs was similar in respects to that of Mr Hoey.

Defence barrister Martin O’Rourke argued that the case against his client was of such a tenuous nature that no jury could rightly convict and therefore Mr Hoey should not be returned for trial.

He said each charge should be looked at individually by the magistrates and tested before the accused was committed for trial on it.

“This is not about a large cauldron put before the court with implications the accused was probably involved in some incidents and was therefore involved in all,” he said.

“It is not a case of a row of dominos where there is evidence which knocks on to other charges.”

Significantly, he said, Mr Hoey had not been charged with membership of any republican organisation which may have planted bombs.

Turning to the DNA evidence he said: “This case stands with the Crown assertion that this individual can be linked by DNA to some of the devices.

“The defence does not accept that the DNA is that of the accused or that it is there by reason of guilty association.”

And he said the fibres which were said to connect his client to devices came from a very common source which meant it could not be discounted that different people had made different bombs.

Wednesday’s hearing began two hours late after the prison service apparently forgot to put Hoey in the van taking prisoners to court.

When proceedings did get under way magistrate Desmond Perry branded the delay a “fiasco”.

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