Belfast Telegraph

Republicans held liable for Omagh bomb fail to have appeal hearings put back

Two republicans held liable for the Omagh bomb atrocity failed today in a bid to have their appeal hearings put back.

Lawyers for Colm Murphy and Seamus Daly were seeking an adjournment over concerns about the availability of trial transcripts.

But judges due to hear their challenges in two weeks time refused to take the case out of the list.

Lord Justice Higgins said: "We are not persuaded that an injustice will be caused to either appellant by the appeal proceeding on... November 25."

Earlier this year Murphy and Daly were held responsible for the Real IRA massacre following a civil retrial at the High Court in Belfast.

A judge identified compelling and overwhelming evidence of their involvement in the August 1998 attack.

Twenty nine people, including the mother of unborn twins, were killed in the blast. Hundreds more were badly injured.

Murphy, a Dundalk-based contractor and publican, and former employee Seamus Daly, from Culaville, County Monaghan, were sued by some victims' relatives in a landmark legal action.

They faced a second trial after successfully appealing against being held liable in an initial ruling in 2009.

Two other men, convicted Real IRA leader Michael McKevitt and fellow dissident republican Liam Campbell, failed to have the findings against them overturned.

During the second hearing it was claimed that Murphy supplied mobile phones to the bomb team.

Daly was allegedly linked by a call made on one of the phones just after the explosion.

In March, Mr Justice Gillen ruled that both men were liable "on the balance of probabilities".He identified compelling circumstantial evidence that two mobiles linked to Murphy were used in the attack.

The same verdict was returned against Daly, based on his conversation on one of the "bomb run phones" less than an hour after the explosion.

Daly's guilty plea and conviction for Real IRA membership in November 2000 was also taken into account.

The ruling left both defendants liable for an award of damages previously set at £1.6m.

At the time, the Omagh families' senior barrister claimed there was "zero" prospect of Murphy and Daly being able to overturn the decision.

However, a fresh challenge is being prepared, with trial transcripts being sought by their legal team.

Two weeks ahead of the scheduled opening, lawyers for the two men argued that they needed more time to obtain the relevant material.

Mary Higgins QC, for Daly, told the Court of Appeal: "To properly present this case the transcripts are required."

But Tony McGleenan QC, for the victims' relatives, insisted the appellants had not shown it was essential in the interests of justice.

"We say the matter should stay in the list in both cases," he added.

Rejecting the application, Lord Justice Higgins pointed out that Murphy and Daly's lawyers have their trial notes and can access CD recordings.

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