Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 28 December 2014

Masked dissident and defendant the same, court is told

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.

Opening the Diplock trial against Patrick John McDaid (43) at Belfast Crown Court yesterday, 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 charge of managing a meeting in support of a proscribed organisation, the IRA, on April 25, 2011.

Mr Mooney described how a masked colour party carrying various flags headed up a parade at the City Cemetery close to the graves of republicans during an Easter Monday commemoration, organised by the 32 County Sovereignty 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 was “attired in apparently military uniform” and had been taken to and from the cemetery in the back of a van, driven by Marvin Canning (51). Last week Canning, who is a brother-in-law of Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness and from Galliagh Park in Derry, pleaded guilty to the same charge but walked free from court after his 10-month jail term was suspended for three years.

Pleading guilty with him was Frank Quigley (30), from Elmwood Road, Derry, whose nine-month jail term was also suspended for three years.

Yesterday, Mr Mooney told Judge McFarland that footage was sent to a facial comparison firm.

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, said the lawyer, police seized documents from a home in follow-up searches.

The trial continues.

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