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File photo dated 28/1/2005 of Colm Murphy Haydn West/PA Wire

Two found liable in Omagh bomb civil retrial

The retrial found Seamus Daly and Colm Murphy liable on the grounds of trespass to the person.

TWO MEN HAVE been found liable on the grounds of trespass to the person to family members who brought a civil action relating to the Omagh bombing.

The bombing in Omagh, Co Tyrone in August 1998 resulted in the death of 29 people – including a woman pregnant with twins.

High Court

In Belfast High Court today, Mr Justice Gillen found Colm Murphy and Seamus Daly liable on the above grounds after the Court of Appeal on 7 July 2011 had allowed the men appeal and ordered a retrial.

Mr Justice Gillen said following assessment of the evidence he had determined that both Murphy and Daly were involved in assisting the preparation, planting and detonation of the bomb in circumstances where those involved in assisting in those acts would be joint tort-feasors (ie individuals who committed a wrongful act injuring another person).

The case was taken by family members of some of the deceased who were killed in the bombing.

The judge said he was satisfied that the plaintiffs had proved the case of trespass to the person against Colm Murphy, and that there was compelling circumstantial evidence that two particular phones were used in the Omagh bombing.

He said he was satisfied that those who provided or used these mobile phones played a central role in the tort of trespass to the person and were joint tortfeasors.

He was also satisfied that the telephone evidence was sufficient to justify the inference he had drawn and reiterated that he had determined that anyone such as Murphy who knowingly lent his phone to those involved in the bombing played a vital role in this joint enterprise, assisted in the bombing.


In garda interviews in 1999, Murphy denied lending his 585 phone to anyone on the day of the bombing, making any calls from 585 to the 980 phone on that day, ever being in Omagh and had no rational explanation for how the 585 phone came to be used without his knowledge.

The judge said that Murphy’s explanations were:

wholly implausible and in my view amount to lies.

He disagreed with Counsel’s contention that there was no evidence that Murphy knew the purpose for which his phone was to be  used.

The judge also determined that the coincidence of a similar unexplained use by the same phone 585 in the Banbridge bombing was further evidence of Murphy’s involvement in the Omagh bombing:

To suggest that for a second time his phone had been mysteriously used without his knowledge moves one into the realm of fantasy.

Murphy failure to give evidence or call any witnesses to explain the presence of the 585 phone in Omagh, or in Banbridge on the day of that bombing strengthened the overall evidence against him, said the Judge, and satisfied him that he should make a finding in favour of the plaintiffs against Colm Murphy.

Seamus Daly

Mr Justice Gillen was satisfied that the plaintiffs had proved the case of trespass to the person against Seamus Daly.

He referred to evidence given by Denis O’Connor who had met a man describing himself as Seamus Healey on a number of occasions about the use of a C2 Contractor’s Certificate to evade tax. O’Connor was interviewed by Garda officers on 22 February 1999 and identified Seamus Daly from a photograph as “Seamus Healey”.

Ohone records indicated that a call was made from the 585 phone to O’Connor on the day of the Omagh bombing and the judge said he was satisfied on the balance of  probabilities that it was Daly who called O’Connor that day.

Mr Justice Gillen said that whilst the conversation with O’Connor would have been sufficient to have established a case against Daly, he also took  into account his plea of guilty in 2004 to an offence of membership of a terrorist organisation in 2000.

The judge said that Daly had given no explanation for his possession of the 585 phone on the day of the bombing. He also said that the coincidence of a similar unexplained use of Daly’s phone in the Lisburn bombing was further evidence of his involvement in the Omagh bombing.

Mr Justice Gillen also drew an adverse inference from Daly’s failure to give evidence or call witnesses.

The Court of Appeal did not permit an appeal against the damages awarded on 8 June 2009.

Read: Government does not propose all-Ireland Omagh inquiry, says Tánaiste>

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