Belfast Telegraph

Terror trial: Defence dispute quality and veracity of MI5 video footage

Alex McCrory
Alex McCrory
Colin Duffy
Harry Fitzsimons

By Michael Donnelly

The non-jury Diplock-style trial of three men allegedly secretly filmed by MI5 agents was yesterday shown two short clips taken in the grounds of a Co Armagh park on December 6, 2013, the day after a murder bid on police in the Ardoyne area of north Belfast.

The prosecution claim that the recording is of Colin Francis Duffy (51), Henry Fitzsimons (50) and Alex McCrory (57), whose addresses can't be reported at this time.

Between them the trio 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 the Ardoyne convoy and possessing of the two AK47 assault rifles and ammunition used in the gun attack.

The defence in the Belfast Crown Court trial, who claim the recordings are of "very poor quality", have already told trial judge Mr Justice O'Hara that they intend to challenge the admissibility of the video content. They even suggested that it was impossible to make any identification in two of the cases.

They again repeated their objections yesterday to the surveillance footage, telling the court, while the prosecution claim the recordings, were made on December 6, 2013, and an hour apart, it was not accepted by the defence without proof of proper timing and continuity.

The two pieces of video, lasting approximately 20 seconds in each case, were allegedly taken from a video camera positioned in the laneway at the entrance of Demense House, Lurgan, looking in the direction of main road.

The black and white footage initially shows a parked car in the background of what appears to be the entrance of a tree-lined avenue with passing traffic. From the left-hand side of the screen three men, one a little stout, the others of average size and build, appear.

They are seen, growing ever larger, as they walk, one of them apparently with a slight limp, towards the direction of the hidden camera. Eventually they exit screen left. One hour later, according to the prosecution, the same three men are captured on tape again.

This time, their backs to the viewfinder, three men, similarly dressed, are filmed walking back down the laneway, until they reach the entrance, turning left, back the way they allegedly came.

MI5 operatives who deployed the surveillance camera have refused to say anything "on the grounds of national security", about their workings, or even when they were put in place, save that it occurred "on or before December 6, 2013".

However, the team leader of the group of agents responsible for setting up the covert device has disputed defence claims about the quality of the black and white footage, claiming it was "pretty clear".

At hearing.

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