A Queen's University student was framed by a British agent for a dissident republican firebomb attack, according to the man’s solicitor.
Niall Murphy, from Kevin Winters & Co, was speaking after prosecutors offered no evidence in the case of Londonderry man Anton Gerard Craig (25).
The politics graduate had been accused of fire-bombing the Toys R Us store on Belfast’s Boucher Road on November 1, 2006 and of possessing the incendiary the previous day.
But yesterday at Belfast Crown Court, prosecution lawyer David Russell told Judge Tom Burgess they were offering no evidence in relation to the case against Craig, from Kular Court, William Street, but gave no reason.
However, the Belfast Recorder has agreed to hear secret legal submissions behind closed doors, from the defence, prosecution and interested third parties before deciding whether or not the reason behind the PPS's decision should be made public.
Judge Burgess, who agreed to hold the ‘in camera' hearing on November 1, said that “unless and until an order is made by the court, that information ... remains cloaked in confidentiality”.
Earlier, the judge directed the jury to formally acquit Craig of the charges.
Speaking outside the court, Mr Murphy said his client had always maintained he had been framed by an “agent of the state”.
Mr Murphy said that Craig had argued that another individual, who cannot be named for legal reasons, had “commissioned, prepared and instigated” what he |described as a “dissident republican firebomb campaign”.
“He has always maintained that the other individual is an agent of the British security services who has deliberately attempted to frame him for these crimes, which therefore raises the spectre of state-sponsored terorrism,” said the solicitor.
Mr Murphy revealed that Kevin Winters & Co are in possession of material “which we consider attracts the public interest,” currently the subject of legal applications, which Craig could use to “exonerate his name”.
The solicitor added: “He [Craig] is a young man and father with no criminal convictions whatsoever, a university graduate and to find himself facing these charges and having spent time in custody, we say that he has the right to exonerate his name and reputation.”
In a pre-written statement, it was further revealed that Craig “will be issuing proceedings for malicious prosecution”.