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.

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  • Steve

    Surprise surprise surprise

    Another faulty show trial based on faulty evidence

    You would think they would get tired of wiping the egg off their faces

  • Greenflag

    Where there is law there is injustice and where there is no law there is even more injustice.

    ‘You would think they would get tired of wiping the egg off their faces ‘

    Not at all . The more egg they wipe off their faeces the more money they make – Billable Hours anyone . Now where’s the ***king english taxpayer so that my bills can be paid 🙁

  • Leo

    The court had heard evidence from Don Tidey himself, plus there’s forensic evidence placing McFarlane at the scene. It’s not like the confession was all they had. Surely the forensics plus Tidey’s testimony is enough to proceed with the trial.

  • andy

    Didnt the guards “lose” the fingerprint evidence?
    Also presumably Tidey didnt swear that he saw Bik.

    Fundamentally though, the fact McFarlane would have been immedeately released under GFA made the whole thing a bit of a waste of time.

  • Tienan

    Leo – there’s no forensic evidence – there’s a photo of a milk carton with his fingerprints on it – jeez – how did it get this far ????

  • Leo

    According to the article about the collapse on the Times website, “Some of this items have since been lost, the trial heard”.

    It still seems to me that there’s enough evidence to place him in the woods with Tidey.

    If they were going on just the confession then the DPP needs a smack on the knuckles.

  • Bemused

    At least do us a favour and READ even SOMETHING about the case before blathering Leo. The state had TWO pieces of probative evidence – forensics and confession. Tidey saw jack-shit and nobody ID’d McFarlane anywhere near the kidnapping/hide/whatever. Talk in the southern bar library is that this was one of the most ludicrously weak prosecution cases in twenty years – not unlike the Hoey prosecution in the North in fact…


    There were big holes in the prosecution case and enough doubt BEFORE the case came to Court so questions need to be asked WHY the State proceeded with it. Did it have anything to do with embarrassing Sinn Fein at the poles with the Southern electorate? Was there an ulterior motive here? Bik McFarlane has been one of the biggest supporters of the Peace Process and a MAJOR pursuader of other Republicans throughout it. He will probably be the first to hold his hands up and take responsibility for his own actions but let’s not forget he was a young man caught up in the dark events of the 1970’s and 1980’s. They were grim horrible times and MANY of those who now sit in Stormont have yet to admit to their roles in the conflict, particularly those on the Unionist benches.

  • Rory

    Well – if the UK government gets its way “within the next two weeks” and introduces legislation that overturns a recent High Court ruling negating evidence from anonymous prosecution witnesses – on the basis that such witnesses could not be effectively challenged – then none of us are safe (this eastern side of the Celtic Isles at least) from dodgy fuzz and their even more dodgy briefs.

    Forget 42 days if you carry around a copy of the Koran or death if you are a mustachioed dusky man traveling by Tube – it’s “bang to rights, guv!” and life with 42 years minimum if you’re caught banging a rozzer’s squeeze while he’s off banging the judge’s missus while the judge is off banging the vicar’s new partner. You’ll be fitted up for some “serioso” or other.

    Complicated innit? That’s why we need barristers and why we must pay them handsomely.

    Uncle Freddie adds: “And why we need to rob bloody banks in the first place – in order to pay the cuntin’ briefs!”

    Uncle Freddie is getting on now and we mustn’t take much notice of what he says – still, he’s entitled – in he?.

  • Andy

    Rory you are a gem. I will be using that line in future conversations with legal friends.

  • Jimmy Sands

    “let’s not forget he was a young man caught up”

    Ah sure God love him.