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James Smyth facing new charges over murder of Belfast workmen Gary Convie and Eamon Fox

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Gary Convie

Gary Convie

Gary Convie

More than 12,000 pages have been compiled in the case against a man facing charges of murdering two Catholic workmen in Belfast 27 years ago, a court heard yesterday.

James Smyth (55) is being prosecuted for his alleged involvement in the double killing of both Gary Convie and Eamon Fox.

His lawyers were given more time to prepare their defence after the scale of legal documents was disclosed.

Defence barrister Paul Bacon told Belfast Magistrates' Court: "It's a case that's somewhat voluminous and complex, in excess of 12,000 pages of committal papers."

Mr Convie (24) and Mr Fox (44) were shot dead by loyalist paramilitaries as they ate lunch at a building site on North Queen Street in May 1994.

Smyth, of Forthriver Link in Belfast, and co-accused Mark Campbell, had previously been jointly charged with their murders.

But in 2015 criminal proceedings against both of them were withdrawn on a without prejudice basis.

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North Belfast man Campbell (45) died suddenly a few months later.

Criminal proceedings against Smyth have now been resurrected by the alternative legal method of an indictable summons.

He is to be charged with the two workmen's murders and the attempted murder of a third individual - identified only as Witness A - on the same date.

Smyth also faces further counts of possessing a Sten submachine gun and ammunition with intent to endanger life, and belonging to a proscribed organisation - namely the Ulster Volunteer Force.

A preliminary enquiry was listed for yesterday as part of the process to have him returned for trial.

However, Mr Bacon set out how the defence team has only secured limited legal aid to begin examining the prosecution case.

Seeking an eight week adjournment, he confirmed an application for further funding is to be made.

Crown counsel acknowledged: "There are quite a substantial amount of papers in the case."

Listing the proceedings for another review in June, District Judge Fiona Bagnall said: "It doesn't seem the most efficient system."


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