McFarlane trial collapses

The trial of prominent Provisional IRA member Brendan McFarlane had only just got underway after a lengthy failed legal battle to prevent it taking place, and there had been testimony from kidnap victim Don Tidey and other details heard. But today, following a ruling that an alleged admission by McFarlane should not be admitted as evidence the trial collapsed.

The Special Criminal Court ruled this morning that admissions allegedly made to gardaí by Mr McFarlane following his arrest in 1998 should not be admitted as evidence.

Counsel for the prosecution Fergal Foley said this afternoon he had been directed by the Director of Public Prosecutions to inform the court that the State was not submitting any further evidence. Following a short recess, Mr McFarlane was dismissed. [updated text]

Adds It’s worth noting what the RTÉ report says on those alleged admissions

McFarlane is alleged to have told officers investigating the 1983 abduction of supermarket boss Don Tidey he was at the wooded hideaway where the businessman was held captive.

But the former IRA officer, who was arrested in January 1998, denied he ever made the statement.

At Dublin’s Special Criminal Court, Mr Justice Paul Butler said doubt had been cast on the existence of the statements for a number of reasons, including that Mr McFarlane denied under oath that he made the alleged admissions.

He also noted problems with the recording of interviews and the fact that Mr McFarlane had refused to answer any questions on the advice of his solicitor.

‘Having considered all of the evidence we are satisfied that there is doubt and we must give the accused the benefit of that doubt and exclude the admissions,’ Mr Justice Butler said.