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Alleged top dissident Fitzsimons held for two years is denied bail

By Alan Erwin

Published 22/12/2015

An alleged senior dissident republican held in custody for two years on a charge of trying to murder police officers has been refused High Court bail
An alleged senior dissident republican held in custody for two years on a charge of trying to murder police officers has been refused High Court bail

An alleged senior dissident republican held in custody for two years on a charge of trying to murder police officers has been refused High Court bail.

Lawyers for Henry Fitzsimons claimed that he should be released to prevent his case turning into a form of detention without trial.

They also argued the evidence linking him to a gun attack on a police convoy in north Belfast is weak. Fitzsimons (47) is alleged to have conspired with co-accused Colin Duffy and Alex McCrory to kill security force members.

Other charges against him include attempting to murder members of the PSNI, conspiracy to possess firearms and explosives with intent to endanger life, aiding and abetting the possession of a firearm, and belonging to a proscribed organisation - namely the Irish Republican Army.

He was arrested after a police Land Rover and two other vehicles came under fire as they travelled along the Crumlin Road in December 2013. Two AK47 rifles and 14 spent rounds of ammunition were later recovered along with a hijacked and burnt-out taxi the gunmen used for their getaway.

Fitzsimons, of no fixed address, was later detained along with Duffy (46) from Forest Glade in Lurgan, Co Armagh, and McCrory (53) of Sliabh Dubh View in Belfast. Prosecutors allege the trio were secretly recorded meeting in the grounds of a large country house near Duffy's home a day after the shooting incident.

But defence QC Eilis McDermott argued that a voice recognition expert had not strongly indicated her client was one of those recorded at the meeting.

"The evidence against Mr Fitzsimons is, by any objective standard, very slim," she claimed.

The renewed application centred on the length of time being taken to progress the case to trial.

However, refusing bail, His Honour Judge Lynch said: "I have to balance the length of time the applicant has been awaiting trial in custody against the gravity of the charges."

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