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Last Updated: Monday, 25 September 2006, 17:01 GMT 18:01 UK
'Shortcomings' in Omagh evidence
Twenty-nine people died in Omagh bombing in August 1998
Twenty-nine people died in the Omagh bombing
There were "shortcomings" in the handling of evidence against a man accused of involvement in the Omagh bombing, Belfast Crown Court has heard.

Sean Gerard Hoey, 37, of Jonesborough, County Armagh, denies 58 charges.

Part of the prosecution case relies on drawing similarities in construction of devices used in other attacks with the Omagh case and linking them to Mr Hoey.

However, the markings attached to items seized appeared to be inconsistent with accompanying paperwork.

The prosecution lawyer spent much of the afternoon cross-examining witnesses from the security forces and a scenes of crime officer about the labelling of exhibits following a mortar attack on a watch tower in 1998.

The case against Mr Hoey, of Molly Road, Jonesborough, resumed on Monday after being adjourned earlier this month.

He denies involvement in the bombing in August 1998 in which 29 people died, including a woman pregnant with twins.

The totality of the evidence will persuade the court of his criminal involvement in the connected series of explosions
Gordon Kerr QC

A prosecution lawyer told Belfast Crown Court the accused faced 58 terror charges to which he pleaded not guilty.

Gordon Kerr QC said the case arose from a series of bomb attacks and attempted bombings during 1998.

He said the prosecution would maintain these were part of a violent campaign conducted by dissident republicans "who had not accepted the cessation of the terror campaign leading up to and following the Good Friday Agreement".

'DNA evidence'

Mr Kerr said the prosecution would attempt to show that a number of the devices used could be connected, not only by the manner of their construction and materials used, but also by fibre and DNA evidence.

"The prosecution will say that both DNA evidence and fibre evidence connecting the defendant to this series of attacks will show his involvement in them and that the totality of the evidence will persuade the court of his criminal involvement in the connected series of explosions," he said.

He said three telephoned warnings before the Omagh bomb, including one to the media using a previously-used codeword, were "not only wrong but were meaningless".

"In fact it will be submitted that it is proper to infer that the warnings as given were such as to make it inevitable that any evacuation was to the very area of the parked car bomb," he said.

"If the bombers genuinely wished to avoid the certain deaths and injury which they knew would occur by placing a large car bomb on a busy shopping street, they could easily have given a description of the vehicle and an accurate description of its location as had been done by them before.

"In fact they did neither."

The proceedings are being broadcast in Omagh for the victims' families, under the same rules as would apply in court.

The link, between Belfast Crown Court and Omagh College was set up at the request of a relatives' support group and will be available for the duration of the trial.

Court rules

Before the trial began, the judge told the court the television link facility was "solely" for the use of the victims and their relatives, and the same rules would apply as if they were in court in Belfast.

"That means there will be silence in the room, no telephones may be switched on and there will be no notes, photographs or sketches made," Mr Justice Weir said.

He added: "If the link fails which, unfortunately in my experience may happen, every effort will be made to restore it promptly but the hearing will continue uninterrupted and will only be connected while the court is actually sitting."

Relatives had expressed disappointment when the trial was adjourned minutes after opening on 6 September.

The case was stopped after a defence lawyer said he was unwell.

Mr Hoey faces 58 charges including five other bombings, four bomb conspiracies, and six murder conspiracies.

The only person to be charged with murder in connection with the bombing, the accused has been in custody for about three years.

Omagh bomb trial resumes

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