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Judge hits out at PPS for O’Hagan trial delay

By Emily Moulton

A district judge has blasted the Public Prosecution Service for its failure to proceed its case against five men accused of murdering journalist Martin O’Hagan.

During a hearing at Craigavon Magistrates Court yesterday, Judge Alan White expressed his outrage at the latest delay, describing the situation as “ridiculous”.

It has been almost nine years since the Sunday World reporter was gunned down.

The investigative journalist, who had built a reputation for covering stories involving paramilitaries and drug-dealing, was shot three times by a gunman just metres from his Lurgan home. The brutal murder was blamed on the loyalist paramilitary group the LVF.

In 2008 five men — Robert Drew King (41), Robin Andrew King (44), Mark Kennedy (30), Nigel Leckey (45) and a fifth man who cannot be named, were arrested and charged in connection with his murder.

Yesterday, Judge White hit out at the PPS for failing to have the file ready after granting them a one-week extension on the deadline.

Last Friday prosecutors were given the short adjournment after an issue arose regarding a statement from a key witness known only as Witness A.

But during the hearing yesterday, a prosecutor told the court they were still unable to fix a date.

A solicitor acting on behalf of one of the accused told the court the delay was unacceptable.

He explained the PPS had been in possession of the full file since 2009 and insisted that a date be fixed yesterday.

But Judge White refused to fix the date. He instead issued an ultimatum to the PPS.

He said: “I think it is just ridiculous. I am not fixing a date for next week. I won’t.

“What I want is the Public Prosecution Service to come to me with a date. I expect an answer next Friday.”

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