Two men found liable for the Omagh bomb atrocity of 1998 at a civil retrial are to appeal the ruling. Earlier this week a High Court Judge told a Belfast court that there was “overwhelming evidence” linking a Dundalk builder and publican to a Real IRA bomb which killed 29 people in Omagh, in 1998.
Colm Murphy, Mountpleasant, Dundalk and Seamus Daly, a brick layer from Culloville, Co Monaghan were found liable for the attack, the single most deadly incident in The Troubles, in a civil case brought against them. However it has been confirmed that they will appeal.
It is expected that relatives of the victims of the bomb will now pursue both men for the e1.9million in compensation, while they are also calling for the criminal case relating to the bombing to be reopened in light of the civil case findings.
Mr Justice Gillen delivered a 73-page ruling following the four-week civil trial, saying the case against the pair was overwhelming.
There was compelling circumstantial evidence that two phones linked to Murphy were used in the attack, he said.
Murphy had no rational explanation for how the phone came to be used without his knowledge, the judge said, and his explanations amounted to “lies”.
“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 the consequences. Even 15 years on nothing can dilute the pulsing horror of what happened,” said the judge.
During the retrial it was claimed that Murphy supplied mobile phones to the bomb team.
Mr Justice Gillen said there was compelling circumstantial evidence that two phones linked to Murphy were used in the attack, with anyone who knowingly provided them to the bomb team liable.
The builder’s denials about lending his phone to anyone and subsequent explanation to police in the Irish Republic were wholly implausible and amounted to lies with no innocent explanation, according to the judge.
The coincidence of a similar unexplained use by the same phone in an earlier bombing in Banbridge was found to amount to further probative evidence of Murphy’s involvement in the Omagh operation.
“To suggest that for a second time his phone had been mysteriously used without his knowledge moves one into the realm of fantasy,” Mr Justice Gillen said.
He described Mr Murphy’s explanation for failing to give evidence as being due to his lack of confidence in the judicial system as “bordering on the risible”.
“It makes the prima facie case even stronger and renders it now overwhelming,” he added.
The same verdict was returned against Seamus Daly, based on his conversation on one of the phones less than an hour after the explosion.