The Supreme Court in Dublin has dismissed an appeal against the trial of H-Block escaper Brendan ‘Bik’ McFarlane on charges connected with an IRA kidnapping in 1983.
It is now expected the Director of Public Prosecutions will apply for a trial date before the non-jury Special Criminal Court.
Mr McFarlane was charged in January 1998 but the case has now suffered a decade of delays, a point underlying his appeal.
After escaping in the mass break out by 38 prisoners from the H-Blocks in September 1983, ‘Bik’ was arrested in Amsterdam in January 1986, extradited to the North and released on parole in 1997.
He was arrested by gardaí in 1998, initiated his first judicial review challenge in 1999 and is on bail pending the outcome of the legal actions.
In 2003, the High Court stopped his prosecution after it was revealed that alleged fingerprint evidence had “gone missing”. The reputed fingerprints and some alleged remarks to gardaí constitute the only evidence against Mr McFarlane.
In March 2006, the Supreme Court overturned the 2003 judgment. In May 2006, Mr McFarlane issued fresh proceedings aimed at preventing his prosecution on grounds that court process delays prejudiced his right to a fair trial.
With the judgement this week, McFarlane’s appeal process has ended and it appears increasingly likely the case will ultimately go to trial.