IRA convict may clear man for Warrington bomb

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The Independent Online
John Kinsella was sentenced to 20 years for hiding explosives and weapons for an IRA gang. He has always pleaded his innocence - and now one of the real bombers may help prove he was telling the truth. Steve Boggan examines the evidence.

A convicted bomber is set to become the first IRA prisoner to give evidence in court in a fresh attempt to free a potentially innocent man. Pairic MacFhloinn, who is serving 35 years for blowing up Warrington gas works, has told lawyers for John Kinsella that he is prepared to confirm at the Court of Appeal that he tricked Kinsella into playing a minor role in the 1993 attack.

Appeal papers seen by The Independent show that the defence team, which is led by Anthony Scrivener QC, a former chairman of the Bar Council, has interviewed MacFhloinn in prison three times.

One of the grounds of appeal states: "... MacFhloinn corroborates the appellant's account that he was not in any way involved in the planning of the explosions".

Kinsella, 52, a petty crook from Nottingham, was accused at his trial of being the quartermaster for a gang that included his nephew, Dennis Kinsella, and two other IRA terrorists, MacFhloinn and "Timmings", who was never captured. The gang caused a huge explosion at the gasworks in February 1993. No one was injured in the blast, but a policeman was shot five times by MacFhloinn in the escape. The officer survived.

On the morning of the bombing, Kinsella, who was sentenced to 20 years, later reduced to 16, had agreed to hide a holdall for the gang. He has always insisted he was told the bag contained stolen goods. In fact, the holdall contained explosives and weapons. Kinsella says he looked in the bag, but he could not identify the items. Defence papers say his fingerprints were on none of them.

In March 1995, with the permission of the IRA Army Council, MacFhloinn sent a letter to Kinsella's supporters which read: "John is not a member of the IRA and has never been. He had absolutely no idea what myself and my comrade ... were involved in. He never suspected that we were Republicans."