Northern bank charges dropped
Northern bank charges dropped

Charges against two men accused over the Northern Bank raid two years ago were dramatically withdrawn in Belfast on Wednesday.

Dominic McEvoy, a builder from County Down, was told he would not have to stand trial for the heist in December 2004.

Allegations that another man, Martin McAliskey withheld information and attempted to pervert the course of justice were also dropped.

Solicitors for both men protested at the city’s Magistrates’ Court.

The Public Prosecution Service decided Mr McEvoy, of Mullandra Park, Kilcoo, no longer had a case to answer after studying a police file.

The decision to drop the charges marks the outworking of the most recent attempt by the PSNI Special Branch to create a crisis in the peace process by implicating the Provisional IRA in a major scandal.

The claims wrecked attempts to revive the North’s power-sharing government.

McEvoy’s lawyer Niall Murphy said while the withrawal of charges was welcome it was long overdue.

He said his client had spent a month in jail before being granted bail. That application had been opposed by the Crown and if it had been successful McEvoy would have spent 14 months in custody for nothing.

Sinn Féin’s Assembly member Caitriona Ruane hit out at the handling of the investigation, saying it was dominated by a “political agenda”.

The South Down representative said: “Since the widely publicised raids in Kilcoo and the subsequent arrest and changing of Dominic McEvoy in relation to the Northern Bank raid it has become increasingly clear to anyone looking at the case impartially that not a shred of evidence existed against this young man.

“The entire investigation into the Northern Bank robbery has been dominated by political detectives working to a particular political agenda.

“It was never about finding those responsible, it has always been about trying to implicate republicans. To date they have failed and will continue to fail.”

She added: “It is welcome that finally these charges and those against a Coalisland man have finally been dropped and their personal nightmare is over.

“However very serious questions remain about the PSNI conduct throughout this entire investigation.”

A third man, Northern Bank staff member Chris Ward, is still accused of the robbery. He was remanded on bail to appear again later this month.

Mr Murphy said he was “personally flabbergasted and amazed” at that decision as there was no evidence against Mr Ward either.

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