Man named in Omagh bomb civil hearing acquitted by court
The only man ever jailed over the Omagh bomb has walked free from court after winning a retrial.
Colm Murphy (57), from Dundalk, was sentenced to 14 years imprisonment in 2002 but won the right to appeal his conviction in 2005. He was sent for retrial at the non-jury Special Criminal Court in Dublin in January and was acquitted yesterday after judge Mr Justice Butler ruled that gardai interview evidence was inadmissible.
Mr Murphy, a building contractor and publican, was among four dissident republicans found liable for the 1998 atrocity during a multi-million pound civil action at Belfast High Court last year. Speaking outside the court in Dublin, he said: “I am glad to see it's all over.”
In 2002 Mr Murphy was found guilty of conspiracy to cause an explosion because he had lent mobile phones to the gang who planted the Omagh bomb in the knowledge they would be used for the bombing operation.
He has always denied the charge.
During that trial two gardai detectives were accused of consistent perjury in relation to interview notes, leading the Supreme Court to quash his conviction and ordering the retrial.
Twenty-nine people, including a woman pregnant with unborn twins, died when the 500lb car bomb ripped through the town centre on an August afternoon.
Stanley McComb, who lost his wife Anne in the explosion, said he was angered but not surprised by the verdict.
“I am raging but it didn’t really come as a shock,” he told the Belfast Telegraph.
“I am angry and hurting inside. What do you say? As families what can we do?
“We’ve exhausted ourselves over the past 11 years to bring cases against people and now we are back to square one.
“We are right back at the beginning and we are too far down the line for any more investigations.
“I am sure he’s glad it’s all over, that’s well for him to say. But we are not glad. Our lives were destroyed in 1998 when the bomb murdered my wife along with the other wives and children.
“I just can’t find any words to express my disappointment on the way things have worked out.”
Mr McComb was among six families that took the groundbreaking civil suit against four Omagh bomb suspects. Real IRA godfather Michael McKevitt, his alleged second-in-command Liam Campbell, Seamus Daly and Murphy were all found culpable and ordered to pay £1.6m in damages.
Mr McComb added: “I think it is time that the ministers, MPs and MLAs say let’s put an end to Omagh and have a proper international, cross-border public inquiry — no matter who it hurts.
“We are hurting here big style. We have suffered enough and it’s time for the governments to stop lying through their teeth to save somebody else's hide.
“There was a lot went on that we didn’t know about it.
“This is another kick in the teeth for the families who have been fighting for justice for such a long time.”
Omagh campaigner Michael Gallagher, whose 21-year-old son Aiden was also murdered in the bombing, said the development came as a further blow to bereaved families.
“It has been the history of this process that the families have been disappointed time and time again, but when it happens it is still hard,” he said.