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Christopher O'Kane faces trial on PIRA charges weeks after having heart attack

By John Cassidy

Published 10/10/2015

Suspect: Christopher O’Kane
Suspect: Christopher O’Kane

A Londonderry man is to stand trial next month accused of multiple terrorist offences relating to murder bids on security force members, a judge has ruled.

Christopher O'Kane (42), of Woodland Avenue in the city, was due to stand trial last month on a total of 17 Provisional IRA-related terrorist offences, including an attempt to murder a senior RUC officer over two decades ago.

But that non-jury Diplock trial had to be aborted after it was revealed O'Kane had suffered a heart attack while in custody.

Yesterday, defence barrister Andrew Moriarty told Judge Sandra Crawford that O'Kane's cardiac condition was "not as bad as first feared". Prosecution barrister Robin Steer asked that the trial be put back until January 2016 as a consultant forensic psychiatrist required six weeks to complete his report.

Mr Moriarty told Judge Crawford he was still awaiting a report from a defence consultant psychiatrist.

Judge Crawford directed that the defence medical report be served.

She also directed that the prosecution's psychiatric report be produced by Friday, November 13.

"I fix a date for trial as Wednesday, November 25," she added.

The trial is expected to last two weeks.

O'Kane was not present in the dock of the court for yesterday's brief proceedings.

He is accused of membership of the Provisional IRA, collecting information likely to be of use to terrorists, five counts of attempted murder on police and soldiers, causing explosions with intent to endanger life, assisting offenders and false imprisonment.

One of the charges relates to him allegedly planting a bomb on the windowsill of the home of Assistant Chief Constable Maurice Johnston at Dunwood Park in Derry's Prehen area in December 1993.

A previous court heard that the defendant allegedly admitted at police interviews that he planted the bomb at ACC Johnston's family home after he walked into Strand Road police station in October 2012.

It was alleged in court at the time that O'Kane admitted to his involvement in the murder of 21-year-old RUC Constable Michael Ferguson in Derry.

Constable Ferguson was shot dead by the IRA in Derry's Shipquay Street on January 23, 1993 while on foot patrol.

A detective constable told the court that O'Kane gave police very detailed information about the murder of the Catholic officer.

It was also claimed that the defendant admitted he was a member of the Provisional IRA.

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