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Last Updated: Friday, 7 May, 2004, 12:42 GMT 13:42 UK
Tohill abduction 'was domestic'
Courts graphic

The alleged kidnapping of a dissident republican, which sparked a political crisis in Northern Ireland, was a domestic incident and not terrorist-related, a court has been told.

A lawyer for one of the four men charged in connection with the incident told the High Court that two of them were cousins of Bobby Tohill and also related to him through marriage.

The claim came during an unsuccessful bail application for Thomas Tolan, 32, a professional boxer, from Ballymurphy Parade, Belfast, who is charged with causing grievous bodily harm to Mr Tohill and falsely imprisoning him.

Barrister Joe Brolly said: "Reading between the lines it may be that the path of true love is not running smoothly in the Tohill household."

However, a Crown lawyer said: "This was a terrorist incident carried out on behalf of an illegal organisation believed to be on ceasefire and all four people are believed to be connected with that organisation."

Following the incident, the IRA was blamed by both the police and the Independent Monitoring Commission.

On Friday, the Crown lawyer alleged the four men accused burst into Kelly's Cellars pub on 20 February and singled out Mr Tohill.

"Pepper was sprayed in his face to incapacitate him and the four then assaulted him before dragging him outside where he was repeatedly beaten with batons, kicked and punched as he lay on the ground," said the lawyer.

He was then bundled into a van which collided with a police vehicle at Millfield and the four were arrested.

Application adjourned

She said Mr Tohill was bleeding severely from head wounds and was taken hospital where he received 96 staples and stitches.

"To date, Mr Tohill has not made a statement of complaint although the events were recorded on CCTV and that would be some of the principal evidence," she said.

Mr Brolly said a statement signed by Robert Tohill, of which police had a copy, gave a flavour of the incident.

He said the assertion in the statement was that it was a domestic incident and given the family connections it did "not take a great leap of imagination" to establish what it was all about.

"(Mr) Tohill has not told what happened and that may be for reasons of embarrassment, because he does not want anyone to know what this was all about," said Mr Brolly.

He said Mr Tohill would never give evidence, adding: "One wonders how far this case will run in the circumstances?

"There is at least a reasonable possibility that six months down the line, the prosecution will not proceed."

Lord Justice Nicholson adjourned the application hear evidence from Mr Tolan's wife. He later refused bail.


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