Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 28 August 2014

Crilly cleared of Nairac murder

Kevin Crilly leaves Belfast Crown Court, where he was cleared of murdering undercover soldier Captain Robert Nairac 33 years ago
Kevin Crilly is pursued by journalists outside Belfast Crown Court after being cleared of killing Robert Nairac

A man has been cleared of murdering undercover British soldier Robert Nairac.

Kevin Crilly, 60, walked free from Belfast Crown Court after being found not guilty of the May 1977 killing.

Captain Nairac was an intelligence officer who was abducted outside a bar in South Armagh at the height of the conflict and whisked across the border into the Republic, where he was believed to have been shot dead in a remote forest. His body has never been found.

Judge Mr Justice Richard McLaughlin said: "I have concluded that the prosecution has not proved Crilly was a participant in the abduction."

As well as the murder charge, Mr Crilly was cleared of four other charges, including kidnapping and false imprisonment.

The judge said that while it was clear the defendant, from Lower Foughill Road, Jonesborough, was present on the night of the abduction and had picked up the man who murdered Capt Nairac, Liam Townson, it had not been proved that he knew what was about to happen.

"The prosecution has not proved beyond reasonable doubt the state of knowledge or intention necessary to transform the transporting of (Liam) Townson (who was convicted of the murder) by Crilly to an unspecified place at an unspecified time into a knowing participation in a potential murder. For these reasons I find the accused not guilty," the judge said.

Mauritius-born Grenadier Guardsman Capt Nairac was Oxford-educated and had undergone survival training in Kenya before volunteering to go to Northern Ireland. On the night he was abducted, Capt Nairac left his Bessbrook Mill base intending to be back before midnight from the pub which is known for its traditional music. His superiors last heard from him by radio just before he walked into the Three Steps Inn.

The judge said that after Capt Nairac was taken in the pub's car park, he was brought to Ravensdale Forest in Co Louth, where he was killed. "He was attacked in the car park of the inn so he could not get into his car either to use the radio hidden therein or to use it to escape," he said. He was badly beaten and left bleeding freely, the judge added.

Crilly, then aged 26, picked up gunman Liam Townson who was later convicted of the killing by the Special Criminal Court in Dublin.

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