Belfast Telegraph

DPP to probe police action
Man accused of bomb charge is cleared after case collapses

By Brian Hutton and Chris Thornton
17 November 2004

The Director of Public Prosections is considering whether to take action against police officers involved in the case of a Derry man cleared of possessing a boobytrap car bomb, it emerged today.

The trial of James Doherty collapsed in Belfast crown court yesterday after the prosecution team said it would offer no further evidence.

A police agent had been due to give evidence in the case today, following a court ruling that defence lawyers could cross-examine the informer.

Mr Doherty (34), from Great James Street, Derry, was due to make a formal complaint to the Police Ombudsman today.

But the Telegraph has learned that a report on the case has already been compiled and sent to the DPP after two previous complaints.

A spokesperson for the Police Ombudsman said today: "We haven't yet received a complaint from Mr Doherty, but we have already investigated the police handling of this case after receiving complaints from two other people involved in the investigation.

"A file has been sent to the DPP following our investigation."

Martin Brogan, of Commmedagh Park, Castlewellan, and Mark Carroll, of Shannagh Drive, Annalong, arrested in connection with the investigation, were cleared of similar charges last year when the prosecution offered no evidence against them.

Mr Doherty spent the last 17 months in Maghaberry prison charged with possession of a car bomb, found near the Newry/Louth border in September 2002.

The PSNI claimed to have forensic evidence linking him to the explosive device.

Defence lawyers had been expected to call Kevin Patrick Byrne, who police admitted was one of their agents, to the stand for questioning today.

The court had heard that explosives traces were discovered on the agent and he may have been involved in the construction or transport of the bomb.

Outside the court a representative of Doherty's solicitors, Kevin Winters and Co, queried Byrne's role in the case and called on the Police Ombudsman to open an investigation.

Sinn Fein backed the call. Assembly member Gerry Kelly said: "This case, in common with other recent high profile cases, exposes the malevolent influence of political policing. Those responsible must be made accountable.

"I have written to those independent accountability bodies, including the Police Ombudsman and the Criminal Justice Services Inspectorate, to investigate how those responsible are going to be held to account.

"Accountability of individuals and of agencies within the criminal justice system is the only way that a new beginning to policing will be achievable."

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