Omagh retrial hears witness evidence
A witness has told the civil retrial of two men being sued by relatives of the victims of the Omagh bombing, which has heard evidence in Dublin, that he spoke to a man he identified as one of the defendants on the afternoon of the bombing.
The evidence was heard at the Criminal Courts of Justice complex in Dublin after a Belfast High Court judge granted a request from the plaintiffs for the examination of witnesses, including gardaí, in the Republic.
The retrial of Colm Murphy, of Dundalk, Co Louth, and Séamus Daly, of Cullaville, Co Monaghan, is going on after they successfully appealed against a 2011 civil court decision that found them liable for the 1998 bombing, which was the deadliest in the history of the Northern Ireland conflict.
Twenty-nine people, including a woman pregnant with twin girls, lost their lives when the bomb detonated on the afternoon of August 15th, 1998.
Real IRA leader Michael McKevitt, who is serving a 20-year jail sentence for directing terrorism, and Louth man Liam Campbell failed in the same appeal to have the judgment against them overturned. No one has been successfully criminally convicted of the bombing.
Witness Denis O’Connor told Lord Brennan QC, acting for the victims’ relatives, that he took a phone call shortly after 3.30 on the afternoon of August 15th, 1998, from a man who he knew as Séamus Healy.
He said that he first met the man at the Red Cow roundabout in Dublin, where he gave him a photocopy of a “C2” payments card and a signed form, which entitled the bearer to payment from a contractor for works carried out.
Mr O’Connor said he met the man on five further occasions at a Bank of Ireland branch in Blanchardstown, where Mr O’Connor would cash a cheque, take a percentage of the proceeds for himself and hand a “cut” to the man before both would go their separate ways.
He told Lord Brennan that he was in a pub when he received the phone call from Healy on August 15th, when the men discussed selling the C2 card on to a third party.
Mr O’Connor agreed with Lord Brennan that he was shown a photo album by detectives in February 1999.
The witness agreed with counsel for both defendants, Mary Higgins QC, that he participated in a C2 fraud. which involved the misuse of a payments card to gain funds from contractors.
Det Insp Seán Brennan (retired) told Tony McGleenan QC, also for the plaintiffs, that in February 1999 he went to Monaghan Garda station and received photographs of a person he knew to be Séamus Daly. He inserted a photograph of Mr Daly in to an album and labelled it number eight of 12. During an interview with Mr O’Connor he presented him with the photo album and that Mr O’Connor identified photograph number eight as the man he had met at the Red Cow roundabout.