MI5 recording of men ‘discussing ambush’ played to trial judge
M15 agents collected over 40 hours of covert audio recordings in a Co Armagh park following a failed dissident ambush of a north Belfast police convoy, the Diplock style trial of the three men allegedly caught discussing the December 2013 shooting, heard yesterday.
However, as Mr Justice O'Hara, sitting alone without a jury, prepared to listen to further portions from the alleged original audios, he was told that he would only hear a fraction of the total of 42 hours of recordings.
Counsel told Belfast Crown Court the prosecution intended to "put before the court" audio recordings which "reflect" what is contained in the alleged transcript and that audio which the "court has already heard".
This is a compilation from 14 audio devices, which were deployed by the secret service in Demesne Park, in Lurgan on December 6, 2013, the day after the Ardoyne gun attack.
Although this disc was played at the opening of the trial of Colin Francis Duffy (51), Henry Joseph Fitzsimons (50) and Alex McCrory (57), it is not evidence against the trio.
The three, whose addresses can't be reported at this time, deny preparing and directing terrorism, and membership or professing to be members of the IRA. Fitzsimons and McCrory also deny attempting to murder police in a convoy, and possessing two AK47 assault rifles and ammunition used in the shooting.
As the court was to begin hearing extracts allegedly taken from the original audio devices, the prosecution lawyer said that in order to do so, "again the headphones will be necessary for this".
While the judge and various counsel and legal teams listened via their headphones, the recordings were also played on the court's own sound system. Some of the audio, lasting on occasions for just seconds, seemed almost inaudible, as if listening to a badly tuned radio station.
On others, while voices could be discerned, all of the audios had a hissing in the background, like white noise.
At the end of yesterday's hearing, the prosecution said that there was also "in existence" a further sealed evidence bag with a USB stick, which has not been accessed "by anyone as yet".
Today it is understood that there is to be further legal argument before the trial is adjourned again, while judgment on other legal matters before another senior judge, is awaited.
In any event, the case will be listed for review next week before possibly being adjourned for the summer recess.