Newspaper for Crossmaglen, South Armagh, Newry and Down.

Omagh bomb: Defence lawyers debate witness questioning to halt trial

Lawyers for a man accused of involvement in the Omagh bombing have been given a month to decide whether to cross-examine witnesses in a legal bid to stop him facing trial.

Seamus Daly, 44, from Culloville, Co. Monaghan, is currently on remand in Maghaberry jail charged with the 1998 attack and last week appeared before Omagh Magistrates’ Court by video-link in the latest of a series of pre-trial hearings since his arrest in April last year.

Daly’s lawyer Peter Corrigan told District Judge Bernie Kelly that prosecution case papers had been received by the defence team and that senior defence counsel Michael O’Higgins will assess the documents to decide whether the evidence should be tested orally in the Magistrates’ court before a decision is made to commit his client to Crown Court trial.

The process of assessing evidence to determine if it is of sufficient strength to warrant trial can either be done by a magistrate solely by considering the relevant papers and witness statements in the case – a preliminary inquiry (PE) – or by more extensive procedures where witnesses are called and cross-examined – a preliminary investigation (PI) or mixed committal.

Mr O’Higgins is to make the decision on whether a PI would be requested, and will give it “his urgent attention”, Mr Corrigan said.

The case was subsequently adjourned until September 15 to give Mr O’Higgins time to consider the prosecution papers.