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Republican on trial accused of 1981 murder bid

A prominent republican and alleged former IRA member have gone on trial accused of trying to kill a part-time UDR soldier almost 30 years ago.

Belfast Crown Court heard that 51-year-old Terence Gerard McGeough was shot in the chest by the intended victim Samuel John Brush as the part-time soldier and full-time postman fought back when he was attacked by two men on June 13, 1981.

McGeough, from the Carrycastle Road, Gortmerron, Dungannon, is accused of attempting to murder Mr Brush, possessing two Colt revolvers used in the attack and two counts of being a member of the IRA on dates between January 1975 and June 1981.

Alongside him in the dock was 47-year-old Vincent McAnespie, from Aghabo Close in Aughnacloy, who denies possessing the guns and ammunition with intent to endanger life and under suspicious circumstances and a further charge of impeding the apprehension of McGeough by hiding the pistols.

Opening the Crown case yesterday, prosecuting QC Gordon Kerr told the court that given the security situation at the time, it was Mr Brush's habit to carry his legally-held .38 Smith & Wesson revolver loaded and in a shoulder holster.

It is the Crown case that McGeough was the gunman who was shot by the intended victim — as he was later treated for a gunshot wound at a Dublin hospital before going on the run. The prosecution contends that McAnespie hid the guns in a neighbour’s yard.

The lawyer said that just after lunchtime, Mr Brush was making a delivery to a house north of Aughnacloy and had just put mail through the letterbox when he saw a “masked gunman” stepping out from an adjacent shed, turn in his direction and shoot at him from about 12 feet away.

“Fortunately for Mr Brush it was his habit to wear body armour under his postal uniform,” said Mr Kerr. He added that as the gunman fled, the part-time soldier felt shots hitting him in the chest, shoulder and back.

The lawyer said the postman realised then that there was “more than one gunman” as another masked man emerged from the door of the house, but Mr Brush ran back to his postal van, trying to draw his gun using his left hand as his right shoulder had been injured.

“There were a number of further shots but by the time of the last shot, he had drawn his weapon and he decided to go back to the house with his weapon drawn,” said Mr Kerr.

He outlined to Diplock judge Mr Justice Stephens how Mr Brush fired two shots at a gunman standing at the front door and that as he moved away, the part-time UDR man saw movements in a hedge to his left, firing another two shots into it.

Mr Brush managed to get back to his van, but before driving off he noticed that the householder, Mrs Mary McGarvey, and her sister were at the front door of the house. He was later treated in hospital for gunshot wounds and collapsed lungs.

At hearing

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