Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 22 October 2014

'Facial mappers' ID man accused of being lead flag bearer in republican parade

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Facial mappers used photograph comparison techniques to identify a masked man accused of being the lead flag bearer in a republican parade, a judge heard today.

Opening the Diplock, no jury trial against 43-year-old Patrick John McDaid at Belfast Crown Court, prosecuting QC Terence Mooney said it was the Crown case that McDaid and the masked flag bearer were "one and the same".

McDaid, from Beechwood Avenue in Londonderry, denies a single charge of managing a meeting in support of a proscribed organisation, namely the IRA on April 25 2011.

Mr Mooney described how a masked colour party carrying various flags headed up a parade at the city cemetary close to the graves of republicans during an Easter Monday commemoration, organised by the 32 County Sovereign Movement where a speech was made by a masked man on behalf of the Real IRA and Oglaigh na hEireann (OnH).

The lawyer told the court the colour party, "attired in apparently military uniform" had been driven to and from the cemetary in the back of a van which had been driven by 51-year-old Marvin Canning.

Last week Canning, who is a brother-in-law of deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness and from Galliagh Park in the Maiden City, pleaded guilty to the same charge but walked free from court after his ten-month jail term was suspended for three years.

Pleading guilty alongside him was fellow Derry man 30-year-old Frank Quigley from Elmwood Road whose nine month jail term was also suspended for three years.

Today Mr Mooney told Judge McFarland that police footage of the commemoration, along with footage seized from various news outlets, was sent to an expert facial comparison company.

Comparing photographs of McDaid taken when he attended the commemoration in previous years in 2007 and 2009, an expert had opined that "his examination lent moderate support to the view that the two persons were the same".

In addition to that evidence, said the lawyer, police had seized documents from a man's home in follow-up searches which seemed to have been written out in preparation for the commemoration.

"The significant part, we say, in support of the identification, we say of the main flag bearer reads: 'colour party - McDaid to get people sorted'," claimed Mr Mooney.

He added: "We respectfully say that the evidence supports the conclusion that the man who is masked and carrying the Tricolour is this defendant."

The trial continues.

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