Sunday Life

Omagh Garda sarge wins court battle

23 January 2005

A Garda Special Branch Sergeant who claims he passed on a warning about the Omagh bombing to Garda Headquarters in Dublin has been cleared of six criminal charges.

Garda John White now faces one final hurdle to clear his name of all the criminal allegations made against him.

The final criminal charge will be mentioned in the High Court in Dublin on Friday, when his lawyers will again ask for the presentation of prosecution evidence crucial to the case.

Eleven bullets found in a search of a Travellers camp in Donegal, along with a shotgun, have gone missing from the headquarters of the Republic's National Bureau of Criminal Investigations and haven't been made available to White's legal team, so they can be subjected to forensic analysis.

They want to establish that no trace of the Garda Sergeant's DNA was found on any of the 11 cartridges.

They are also questioning other evidence compiled in the case, and challenging a witness statement made by another Garda.

The absence of the evidence, which the Bureau says has gone missing, is expected to lead to the withdrawal of the final charge against White by the Republic's Director of Public Prosecutions.

He may then face internal disciplinary charges, several of which are based on the statements of a witness, who a judge ruled last week wasn't fit to give evidence in a Donegal Court.

Garda White has been battling to clear his name since 1998. He was the Special Branch handler of car thief Paddy Dixon, who he says told him that the Real IRA asked him to steal a car for use in a big bombing in Northern Ireland in August 1998.

The MP for Tewkesbury, Laurence Robertson, who has taken an interest in the Omagh case and particularly the claim that a warning to the Garda from Dixon about the bombing wasn't passed to the RUC, has requested a private meeting with Security Minister Ian Peason.

The request follows separate meetings this month with the PSNI officer in charge of the Omagh bombing, Chief Superintendent Norman Baxter, Sergeant John White and the leader of the Fine Gael Party in the Republic, Enda Kenny.

Mr Robertson said he will ask the Minister at next month's meeting whether the Garda and the Irish Government knew of the plan to bomb Omagh, and whether any advice was passed to the RUC or M15 about the planned attack.

"I have been told of one further, very alarming issue relating to the theft of the car and another detail, which suggests that a second Garda source may have warned about the bombing. I won't go into detail about these two matters at the present time, but I will raise the issues with the Minister during the meeting, in a fortnight's time", he said.

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