Police 'delay' Omagh phone evidence
Police in the Republic of Ireland have delayed handing over mobile phone evidence to the team prosecuting a man for the Omagh bombing, a lawyer has told a court.
Senior Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) officers are to meet counterparts south of the border to discuss the matter next month. Phones used by the alleged bombers were being monitored by the security services on the day of the attack, a lawyer for accused Seamus Daly told a previous hearing.
The bricklayer, 44, is being tried for 29 murders after a 1998 Real IRA blast devastated the busy Co Tyrone market town.
Irish police had committed to providing the communications material by today, Public Prosecution Service (PPS) barrister Michael Chambers told Omagh Magistrates' Court.
He said: "Everyone is under no illusions about the urgency required in this case."
Daly appeared by video link from prison as the court was updated on legal issues.
The accused faces 29 counts of murder after the device exploded in the centre of the town on a busy Saturday and killed shoppers from Ireland, Britain and Spain. A woman pregnant with twins and nine children were among the dead.
The suspect, from Kilnasaggart Road, Jonesborough, Co Armagh, also faces counts of causing the August 1998 explosion in Omagh and possession of a bomb in the market town with intent to endanger life or property.
He is further charged with conspiring to cause an explosion and having explosives with intent in connection with a separate dissident republican bomb plot in Lisburn, Co Antrim, in April that year.
Mobile phones were being monitored by the security services on the day of the Omagh blast, lawyer Peter Corrigan told a previous hearing.
The car that transported the bomb was stolen in Carrickmacross, Co Monaghan, in the Republic of Ireland, two days before the blast.
Mr Chambers said prosecutors were already preparing papers for a trial and knew what the information from the Garda was going to say.
"A decision has been given that senior police in Northern Ireland and senior gardai will meet on the 13th of April to discuss the issues related to this outstanding mobile phone evidence and find out why it has not been provided to date and hopefully obtain it as soon as possible."
He added: "The directing officer does not anticipate that there will be any great difficulty about that."
The prosecution has commissioned an expert report on mobile phones and received it yesterday.
Evidence held by the Garda is the other outstanding matter.
Mr Chambers said the force indicated six weeks ago that all the material would be available by today.
"Last week it became clear that material was not going to be available."
He said Northern Ireland's Director of Public Prosecutions Barra McGrory met senior PSNI leaders after which a decision was made to seek talks with gardai.
Mr Chambers added: "It is definitely going to take place on the week of the 13th."
He said other material was already in the process of being prepared for the trial and when the phone records arrived from the Republic they would be checked and added to the evidence papers.
District judge Bernie Kelly said Daly could be charged by a higher court, a precursor to a Crown Court trial, before the legal profession takes its summer break.
The case was adjourned to April 21 to fix a date for a preliminary inquiry, when the prosecution produces its evidence and the case is moved to the higher court.