Page last updated at 17:57 GMT, Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Man is charged with Nairac murder

Captain Nairac's body was never found
Captain Nairac's body was never found

A man has been charged with the murder of British Army officer Robert Nairac more than 32 years ago.

Kevin Crilly, 59, from Lower Foughill Road, Jonesborough, was charged with the murder and two counts of kidnapping and false imprisonment.

He was released on bail following the hearing at Newry Magistrates Court.

Captain Nairac, 29, originally from Gloucestershire, was abducted by the IRA from Dromintee, County Armagh, on 14 May 1977. His body was never found.

The accused spoke only to confirm he understood the charges against him.

A detective sergeant told the judge on Wednesday that he could connect Mr Crilly with the charges.

'Traces of blood'

He told the court Captain Nairac was abducted after a scuffle broke out at the Three Steps bar in Dromintee in south Armagh.

BACKGROUND

The kidnap and murder of British Army Captain Robert Nairac is one of the most mysterious cases of Northern Ireland's Troubles.

On the night of his disappearance on 14 May 1977, he was working undercover without backup in the republican heartland of south Armagh, attempting to gather intelligence on IRA operations.

Accounts of the final hours before his disappearance have the Catholic public school-educated officer in a bar singing Irish rebel songs in a fake local accent.

He was posthumously awarded the George Cross - the citation praises his resistance to his abductors and bravery under "a succession of exceptionally savage assaults".

Three men have previously been convicted of murdering Capt Nairac.

The court heard that the car used to drive Captain Nairac away was either owned or driven by Mr Crilly.

Two weeks later, a strand of hair consistent with a sample taken from Captain Nairac's hairbrush was found in the car.

It's believed he was driven across the border to Ravensdale forest in County Louth, where two fishermen later found traces of blood.

At the time Mr Crilly was interviewed by police about Captain Nairac's disappearance, but he was later released.

He spent 29 years in the United States, and the court was told he only returned to Northern Ireland after the break-up of a long-term relationship.

The court heard the police had spoken to the FBI about what he did in the intervening years in the US.

Police opposed an application for bail because of the severity of the murder charge.

A defence solicitor said that Mr Crilly had been granted bail in May 2008 after being charged with false imprisonment and kidnapping and had consistently met with all bail conditions.

After some legal argument, he was eventually released on bail.



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SEE ALSO
Man bailed over kidnap of soldier
22 May 08 |  Northern Ireland
Who were the 'Disappeared'?
19 Dec 08 |  Northern Ireland


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