Northern Ireland news

Man jailed over Belfast bomb to appeal conviction after Real IRA 'debrief document' disclosed

Lawyers for Belfast republican Terry McCafferty are taking his case to the Court of Appeal
Connla Young

A man jailed following an attempted bomb attack in Belfast is to take his case to the Court of Appeal after what is thought to be a Real IRA 'debriefing note' was disclosed by prosecutors.

The seven-page document was handed over to lawyers acting for north Belfast man Terry McCafferty last week.

He was sentenced to 12 years in 2005 for his part in a bomb which was defused at the motor tax office in Belfast city centre three years earlier.

Freed from prison in November 2008, his early release licence was revoked weeks later.

He was later released by sentence review commissioners in 2010.

In 2014 McCafferty pleaded guilty to handling £10,000 following a robbery from a cash-in-transit guard in Belfast the previous year.

Another man, Paul Donnelly, who was shot and injured by police during the attempted bomb attack, was killed in a car crash in Co Down in 2015.

McCafferty's legal team requested the previously unseen document from the Public Prosecution Service earlier this year and had launched judicial review proceedings at the High Court in a bid to force its handover.

The hand-written document, which is understood to provide detailed information about how the attack was planned and carried out, was disclosed in court last week.

McCafferty's solicitor Michael Brentnall last night claimed the document, which was recovered during a house raid in Belfast in 2003, was "entirely relevant" to his case.

“Had the document been disclosed at the time of his prosecution, and the contents of this document made available to our client, it would have undoubtedly changed the course of proceedings,” he said.

Mr Brentnall said McCafferty now intends to appeal his conviction.

“Our office is now in a position to lodge an application to the Court of Appeal to seek the quashing of our client's conviction on the basis that the failure to disclose an entirely relevant document during the course of criminal proceedings was prejudicial to our client's rights and contrary to his right to a fair trial.

“Furthermore, we shall also be requesting the full reasons why the document was not disclosed to our client during his criminal proceedings.”

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