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Colin Duffy denies charges over gun attack on police patrol

By Ashleigh McDonald

Three men - including prominent Lurgan republican Colin Duffy - are to stand trial later this year on charges arising out of a gun attack on a police patrol in December 2013.

The trio - Colin Francis Duffy, Henry Joseph Fitzsimons and Alex McCrory - appeared at Belfast Crown Court yesterday where they denied a string of charges linked to the shooting in Ardoyne, north Belfast, including directing terrorism.

The court heard the Diplock non-jury trial is expected to last between six and eight weeks.

While it is the prosecution's case the trio were secretly recorded the day after the shooting near 49-year-old Duffy's Forest Glade home, only Fitzsimons and McCrory are accused of involvement in the gun attack on the police convoy on Belfast's Crumlin Road on December 5, 2013.

Both Henry Joseph Fitzsimons (48), of no fixed abode, and 55-year old Alex McCrory from Sliabh Dubh View in Belfast, deny attempting to murder members of the PSNI.

They also deny possessing the two AK47 assault rifles and ammunition used in the attack.

Along with Duffy, they were also charged with the preparation of terrorist acts, namely holding a meeting in Lurgan Park the following day, to discuss matters in relation to terrorism.

The three co-accused were also charged with and deny directing a terrorist organisation between December 31, 2012 and December 16, 2013.

And they deny belonging to or professing to belong to a proscribed organisation - the Irish Republican Army - on the same dates.

After all three men denied all the charges against them during yesterday's hearing, Mr Justice Treacy was informed there would be a number of applications made to the court ahead of the trial.

These applications include reports linked to the covert surveillance both in Lurgan Park, and regarding Duffy alone, from secret recordings in Santa Ponsa in the south-west of Majorca.

The case is due to be reviewed in four weeks time, with the judge expressing the hope that by February 23, defence teams for the defendants "will have outlined what their timetable is for the provision of various reports".

All three men were then released on continuing bail.

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