Omagh trial to continue
The non-jury trial of Armagh man Sean Hoey for the 1998 Real IRA Omagh
bomb and other attacks is set to continue despite a defence attempt to
have the case thrown out because of "shortcomings, lies and mysteries".
Lawyer Orlando Pownall QC pointed to the lack of evidence to back the
Crown claim that Mr Hoey made the timers used in the Omagh bomb and
He pointed to "a wholesale lack of care" taken by scenes of
officers, police, and forensic labs. Mr Pownall said this was of
particular concern because of its potential to impact on DNA results
being used in this case.
Mr Pownall went on to describe suspicious tampering with evidence, such
as the appearance of tape on evidence after it was examined in a
forensic lab in the North of Ireland. It has never been explained how
that could have happened.
He also called for the evidence of two witnesses to be excluded. after
scenes of crime officer Fiona Cooper and Detective Chief Inspector
Philip Marshall had been shown to lie under oath.
While Mr Pownall said DNA was the foundation stone of the prosecution
case, he said prosecution experts had been shown to "differ
fundamentally" in their interpretation of results.
He also pointed out that low copy number DNA, the testing technique
used in the case, was still not accepted for evidential purposes in the
majority of countries worldwide.
Justice Weir refused the application to stop the trial. He said the
defence had failed to show "that the evidence was so discredited
intrinsically weak that it could not support a conviction".
However, the judge threw out two of the 58 charges, relating to an
attack in Banbridge, County Down two weeks prior to the Omagh bombing,
and another attack on members of the British Crown forces.
Earlier the prosecution completed their case, ending with the
extraordinary revelation that swabs used to test DNA in the case were
It was revealed that at the forensic lab where some exhibits were
examined, four out of five swabs in a batch were contaminated.
The British Crown forensic science service has since changed its
supplier - but it was admitted that it was "a problem" when
looking at some items in this case.
Dr Jonathon Whitaker, a forensic scientist, insisted he was still 100%
certain of his findings. The defence lawyer, Orlando Pownall QC, said
that was "wishful thinking".
The trial is adjourned until the 9th of January next when the case for
the defence gets underway.