Irish Independent

'Leave me alone,' says Omagh bomb accused as he strides to freedom

THE ONLY man to be jailed for the Omagh bombing was yesterday freed on bail, following the quashing of his conviction by the Court of Criminal Appeal last week.

Colm Murphy (52) celebrated with his first beer in almost three years after walking free from the Special Criminal Court shortly after 1pm.

He had signed a bail bond, lodging €50,000 in cash with the court and agreed to sign on daily at Dundalk garda station and not to apply for a passport. TV cameras and members of the press pursued Mr Murphy as he left the court and walked up Capel Street accompanied by his son and daughter.

Angrily brushing away the microphones and cameras, Murphy repeatedly said: "Leave me alone." When asked why he was refusing to give a comment, he said: "I'm not running away," before entering a pub.

Members of the public watched in astonishment, backing hurriedly out of the way, as the scrum proceeded up Capel Street, only ending when Murphy nipped into The Boar's Head pub. His daughter, Leonora, then read out a handwritten statement on behalf of the Murphy family, saying they were delighted to have their father home.

"Our hearts go out to the people of Omagh," she said. "It was a terrible tragedy that should never have happened." She said that it had also destroyed her father's life, adding: "A terrible miscarriage of justice has been done and we'll not stop until our father's name has been completely cleared."

In court she had signed a surety for €25,000, while Murphy's sister, Kathleen Tully, lodged €25,000 in cash before he was allowed to leave the court.

Murphy was jailed for 14 years by the Special Criminal Court in 2002 for his role in the Omagh bombing, which killed 29 people, including a mother pregnant with twins, and injured over 300 in 1998.

Murphy, a building contractor and publican, had pleaded not guilty to conspiring to cause an explosion between August 13 and 16, 1998.

Last week the Court of Criminal Appeal overturned the conviction and ordered a retrial after finding the court of trial had failed to give proper regard to altered garda interview notes.

Diarmuid McDermott
and Nicola Anderson

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