THE first person to be convicted in connection with the 1998 Omagh bombing has died at the age of 70.
Colm Murphy, who was sentenced to 14 years in prison in 1999 over the Real IRA atrocity in Omagh the year before that killed 29 people including a woman pregnant with twins died on Tuesday at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda, it was confirmed.
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It is understood the Co Armagh-born republican and former building contractor suffered a lung disease.
Murphy, who had previously been jailed in the 1970s and 1980s over republican activity, including attempting to smuggle M60 machine guns to Ireland from the US, was charged in February 1999 by Gardaí for conspiring to cause an explosion and membership of the Real IRA.
He was the first person charged in connection with the Omagh explosion, and at his trial at Dublin's Special Criminal Court in 2001, it was claimed he had supplied two mobile phones used in the bombing.
In January the following year, he was convicted and sentenced to 14 years in prison, but in 2005 the conviction was overturned after appeal court judges ruled it was unsafe over evidence provided by two Gardaí officers who were later charged with perjury, and the court's invasion of his presumption of innocence relating to his previous convictions.
Murphy was acquitted following a retrial, but in 2009 was found liable for the Omagh bombing along with three other men in a civil case in Belfast brought by victims' families, and the four were ordered to pay £1.6m in damages.
Murphy and Seamus Daly, who was also named in the case as a key figure in the bomb plot, were successful in upholding an appeal, and in 2010 Murphy told the Irish News that the Omagh bombing was "awful" and "tragic", adding it "never should have happened".
However, Omagh justice campaigner Michael Gallagher, whose 21-year-old son Aiden died in the blast, said Murphy's words were "hollow" and criticized him for failing to support a criminal investigation into the bombing.
Murphy was once again found liable in 2013, but none of the £1.6m was ever handed over.
A death notice for Muprhy said he "died peacefully" in hospital, and no details of a funeral have yet been released.