Two men found responsible for Omagh bombing after landmark civil action

 

Two men connected to the republican movement in Northern Ireland have been ruled responsible for the Omagh bombing after a landmark civil action.

The  verdict against Colm Murphy and Seamus Daly follows a legal move by members of the victims' families, after a decision was made to grant the pair a retrial.

Murphy and Daly had been granted a retrial after they successfully appealed a finding of liability against them in the original case in Belfast High Court.

But their second trial delivered the same outcome in the same court, with judge Mr Justice John Gillen ruling the men were responsible for the 1998 Real IRA atrocity.

Twenty-nine people, including a woman pregnant with twins, died when the dissident republican car bomb ripped through the Co Tyrone market town on August 15 1998. More than 200 were injured in the blast.

No-one has been successfully criminally convicted of the bombing, but in 2009 Murphy, a builder and publican from Dundalk, Co Louth, and Daly, a bricklayer from Cullaville, Co Monaghan, and two others were held responsible in the initial civil action taken by some of the bereaved families.

Along with Real IRA chief Michael McKevitt and Co Louth republican Liam Campbell, the men were ordered to pay £1.6 million in damages.

McKevitt, who is serving a 20-year prison sentence in the Irish Republic for directing terrorism, and Campbell, who recently successfully fought extradition proceedings to Lithuania on arms smuggling charges, failed in their bids to overturn the Omagh civil judgment.

They are now seeking to have their case heard in the European Court of Human Rights.

Murphy and Daly's appeals were upheld but both men were ordered to face another trial. The retrial started in January and finished last month, with Mr Justice Gillen delivering his reserved judgment today.

Neither defendant was in court for the judgment. Both men also declined to give evidence during the trial.

Mr Justice Gillen said the case against them, which was primarily based on mobile phone evidence, was “overwhelming”.

The judge said he had drawn a negative inference from their failure to provide any explanation in court.

“Given the strength and quality of the evidence, I have determined that both defendants were involved in assisting the preparation, planting and detonation of the bomb in circumstances where those involved in assisting those acts would be joint tortfeasors (individuals who committed a wrongful act injuring another person),” he said.

Justice Gillen said time had not diminished the impact of what had happened in Omagh.

“The barrier of time has not served to disguise the enormity of this crime, the wickedness of its perpetrators and the grief of those who must bear its consequences,” he said.

“Even 15 years on, nothing can dilute the pulsing horror of what happened.”

Representing the families, Lord Brennan QC had asked the judge to make a ruling that would have prevented the defendants' ability to appeal his judgment, stressing the length of time the relatives have waited for closure.

Justice Gillen said he had great sympathy with the families and acknowledged the stress the lengthy civil proceedings had caused them.

But he said he did not want to interfere with the fundamental right of appeal and granted the defendants six weeks to lodge one.

Lord Brennan said the bereaved relatives were determined that the damages would be paid.

“Enforcement will be pursued with vigour here and in other relevant jurisdiction,” he said.

Solicitor for the families Matthew Jury said the Omagh bombers had not furthered any cause.

“It was a massacre of the innocent that left a scar on families, their community and their country that has not healed,” he said.

“By bringing this civil action, their victims showed that they will not be intimidated and that justice will be done.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
peopleIt seems you can't silence Katie Hopkins, even on Christmas Day...
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: Stanley Tucci, Sophie Grabol and Christopher Eccleston in ‘Fortitude’
tvSo Sky Atlantic arrived in Iceland to film their new and supposedly snow-bound series 'Fortitude'...
Life and Style
fashion
Arts and Entertainment
tv
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there