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Alleged recordings of republicans compared in Belfast police murder bid trial

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Colin Duffy

Colin Duffy

Photopress Belfast

Colin Duffy

A forensic voice analyst has claimed that a covert recording of three republicans discussing a murder bid on police compared with other alleged known recordings of the men provides strong to moderate support they are the suspects.

The undercover MI5 recordings allegedly captured the trio, 51-year-old Colin Duffy, 50-year-old Henry Fitzsimons and 57-year-old Alex McCrory discussing the failed murder bid in December 2013.

The claim was made by Prof Peter French, who, however, accepted that in the case of Mr Fitzsimmons, one of the recordings provided for his voice analysis, was not even him.

Prof French, who has more than 35 years experience in the field of voice analysis, told Mr Justice O'Hara, that even having discounted that recording, and reviewing the findings, including analysis of other materials, it "provided modest to strong support", Mr Fitzsimmons was one of those secretly recorded.

In cross-examination by defence QC Elis McDermott for Mr Duffy, she agreed that voice analysis evidence was not the same as fingerprint or DNA evidence and when used in criminal proceedings should only be relied upon in conjunction with other evidence.

The Chairman of the Forensic Speech Laboratory told the court sitting without jury that, in the case of Mr Duffy, his findings provided the same "moderate to strong support". In respect of Mr McCrory, his findings allegedly provided "very strong support".

Prof French said he had also analysed a second covert recording said to be of Mr Duffy in Spain. The expert said that in relation to the recording, it provided "very strong support" that the person in question was the accused.

Mr Duffy faces no charges arising out of this covert recording, said to have been made during a family holiday, but which allegedly had him discussing an arms and explosives deal.

Before giving his evidence a prosecution lawyer said the recordings used for comparison in the case of Mr Duffy, taken from a press conference and from a custody cell, were accepted as coming from him, while those recordings allegedly of Mr Fitzsimmons and Mr McCrory were not.

Later during cross-examination Prof French agreed there was no data base or statistical information which may be used to compare his findings and that the "science" remains in very much in the same position as when he first began in the business.

Prof French said comparison findings are very much based on case work experience and that there can be a variation in the findings between experts analysing the same material.

The trio, whose addresses can't be given at this time, deny preparing and directing terrorism, and membership or professing to be members of the IRA. Fitzsimons and McCrory are also charged with and deny attempting to murder police in the convoy, and possessing of the two AK47 assault rifles and ammunition used in the 2013 attack.

They were allegedly covertly recorded and videoed under an MI5 operation "code name Op Idealistic", carried out in Demesne Park, Lurgan, owned and operated by Craigavon Council, the day following the gun attack on a police convoy in the Ardoyne area of north Belfast on December 5, 2013 in which 14 shots were fired at the three vehicle patrol by two gunmen.

Belfast Telegraph