News Letter

Accused Are 'Totally Innocent' Says Tohill

By Staff Reporter

Thursday 7th October 2004

Four men accused of kidnapping dissident republican Bobby Tohill were sent for trial yesterday despite a defence claim they had no case to answer.

Tohill, 46, sat with relatives and friends of the four defendants when they appeared at the Magistrates Court in Belfast.

Liam Rainey, 30, of New Barnsley Crescent, Gerard McCrory, 32, from Dermott Hill Road, Harry Fitzsimmons, 35, from St James Gardens and Thomas Tolan, 32, of Ballymurphy Parade, all west Belfast, are also charged with causing grievous bodily harm to Tohill when he was allegedly abducted from a city centre pub last February.

Defence solicitor Philip Breen opposed the Crown's application to commit the defendants for trial.

He said Tohill had not made any complaint to police, there was no medical evidence and no evidence about what took place within the pub.

Mr Breen said the legislation required that a kidnapping charge had to be substantiated by a complaint that a person had been taken against their will and no such statement was before the court.

But the prosecuting lawyer said he had seen a video of the incident and submitted that what took place required a degree of planning and preparation.

As for medical evidence, he said, there was more than an abundance as to injuries.

Resident Magistrate Desmond Perry said he had seen the video and had observed a man being taken forcibly from a public house, assaulted on the ground outside and bundled into a van.

"The van was rocking about and was driven off," he said. "It was stopped a short time later and the four accused were arrested.

"I am satisfied there is a case to answer for each of the accused on each of the charges."

The four defendants, who were released on bail in the High Court in August, were sent for trial at Belfast Crown Court on a date to be fixed.

Tohill himself had faced charges relating to an incident a month after the alleged kidnapping.

He was accused of going into a man's home at Divis Tower, threatening to kill him and possessing a gun or imitation.

The charges were dropped on August 20. Outside the court he claimed that he had been "stitched up" by police after he refused to co-operate with the Independent Monitoring Commission which backed up the Chief Constable's claim that the IRA carried out his alleged kidnapping.

He added that he had refused to make a complaint against the four men because they were "totally innocent".

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