Irish Republican News · January 12, 2007
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
Omagh police witnesses under investigation

Police Ombudsman Nuala O’Loan is investigating the conduct of two key PSNI police witnesses in the non-jury Diplock trial of Armagh man Sean Hoey.

During the hearings, PSNI members Fiona Cooper and Philip Marshall both admitted changing their statements on evidence gathering.

Mr Hoey denies 58 charges, including involvement in the August 1998 Omagh bomb, blamed on the breakaway ‘Real IRA’.

The prosecution says Hoey made the bomb timers used at Omagh and in a series of other attacks.

While being cross-examined at Belfast Crown Court Mr Marshall and Ms Cooper admitted they had “beefed up” their original statements to suggest that specialist forensic precautions had been taken at an explosives find, when in fact they had not.

This was done to bolster the weak prosecution case, which has relied on flawed and fraudulent forensic evidence.

Mrs O’Loan’s investigators are examining evidence transcripts and have requested other documents.

Mr Justice Weir has taken the unusual step of ruling that the investigation into witnesses’ conduct can take place while the trial continues.

It was also revealed that the original statements made by the witnesses had been lost.

The judge criticised the conduct of the witnesses and called for an investigation into why statements were altered and the originals were lost.

He said the “credibility and reliability” of Mr Marshall and Ms Cooper had been called into serious question but that the trial could continue.

It is now expected that the trial could finish hearing evidence within days after Mr Hoey refused to participate.

The trial, now in its 52nd day, could finish early next week, after which it is expected Mr Justice Weir will reserve judgment.

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© 2007 Irish Republican News