A suspected IRA bomber accused of murdering two British soldiers in 1972 has been remanded in custody.
John Downey, 67, is charged with the murders of Lance Corporal Alfred Johnston, 32, and Private James Eames, 33, in addition to an additional explosives offence.
The Ulster Defence Regiment soldiers died in a car bomb assault in Co Fermanagh in August of that yr.
Downey handed himself in to police in Donegal after shedding a combat towards extradition again in July.
He appeared at Omagh Magistrates’ Court on Saturday morning the place District Judge Michael Ranaghan denied him bail after ruling he is ‘a flight risk’..
Downey was beforehand charged with murdering 4 Royal Household Cavalrymen in the 1982 Hyde Park bombing.
But his Old Bailey trial collapsed when it emerged he had been handed a so-called ‘comfort letter’ – issued beneath the phrases of the controversial On The Runs (OTRs) scheme – assuring him he was not actively wished by the authorities.
Dressed in a white shirt and blue jumper, Downey listened from the dock as PSNI Detective Chief Inspector John Caldwell outlined the case for denying him bail.
‘Police object to bail for the defendant on the grounds that he is a flight risk,’ he mentioned.
‘The defendant did not consent to be extradited and appealed to High Court in Dublin.’
Mr Caldwell went on to listing the quantity of hearings Downey had gone by means of to combat extradition in the Republic of Ireland, earlier than stating: ‘In light of all of this, police are of the view the defendant doesn’t need to face trial in Northern Ireland.’
Prosecutor Samuel Magee QC added that Brexit might additionally pose an impediment: ‘In police custody last night we got the defendant’s passport which he introduced with him, nevertheless he might simply go away and go to the Republic and with all of the uncertainty round Brexit, that would frustrate the justice course of.’.
But Downey’s barrister Michael Duffy mentioned he just isn’t a flight threat as he has nowhere else to go.
‘First of all, this is a 67-year-old man, he’s married with youngsters, there aren’t any points in relation to this man not complying with all situations,’ he continued.
‘There’s nowhere this man can go, his household are grounded the place he lives, and has lived all his married life, he is a person of unwell well being with persistent situations, and that must be considered.
‘There is no evidence the accused has committed any actual act in the 47 years since the alleged crime.’
Mr Duffy concluded that any trial could be a prolonged and sophisticated one, including it might be an ‘affront to justice’ to not grant bail.
District Judge Ranaghan adjourned for a number of minutes earlier than returning to courtroom the place he informed the events his determination had been ‘far from straightforward’.
‘There are a number of matters that point toward granting bail, I have considered Mr Downey’s age and well being, and the energy of the proof,’ he mentioned.
‘This shall be a protracted and protracted matter with quite a few pre-trial points.
‘On the other side of the coin, the charge couldn’t be extra grave.
‘I am conducting a risk assessment here in the circumstances, and I find he is a flight risk, and so I do refuse bail.’.
A big crowd had gathered exterior the city centre courtroom home in help of Downey, together with Sinn Fein MP for the world Orfhlaith Begley in addition to a quantity of former and present Sinn Fein representatives together with ex-MP Pat Doherty.
After the listening to, Downey was transferred from the courtroom to a ready police van.
Crowds shouted help for the accused, earlier than a scuffle ensued between them and cops after PSNI had tried to maneuver supporters and the press from the street.