Arms trial held up as QC is stranded

Volcanic ash flights disruption - Arms trial held up as QC is stranded
5 May 2010
The Irish News

A major dissident arms smuggling trial had to be postponed for 24 hours after a leading barrister due to take part in the case was stranded in London by the volcanic ash cloud. Orlando Pownall QC had been due to be present at the opening of the trial of three Co Armagh men charged with a Real IRA gun smuggling plot. However, as the trial was due to open yesterday, Mr Justice McLaughlin was informed that the top British barrister had been unable to fly from his home in London because flights over Irish airspace were grounded.

The court was told that Mr Pownall, who took part in the Omagh bomb and Robert McCartney murder trials, had undertaken to drive 500 miles from London to Belfast to ensure that he could attend the rescheduled opening of the trial today.

Blogger note: 
  • According to a previous article, there are two separate trials related to the "three Co Armagh men" - Desmond Kearns, Paul McCaugherty and Michael Dermot. SEE: Terror chiefs plan vote day bomb strike   
  • Desmond Kearns and Paul McCaugherty apparently face charges of conspiring to possess weapons between 2005 and 2006. Michael Dermot is accused of making the deeds of a restaurant in Portugal available for terrorism. SEE: Threat to 'MI5 man' puts trial in doubt  
  • The restaurant in question is reported to be the Panda Grill in Alvor. SEE: IRA terrorists were based in the Algarve

Article continues:

It was one of a number of trials in Belfast yesterday affected by the closure of airports.

A landmark legal challenge to non-jury trials in Belfast was also put off yesterday after two of the barristers in the case were unable to fly to Northern Ireland.

Prominent Co Tyrone republican Brian Arthurs (45), of Finulagh Road, Castlecaulfield, Dungannon, Co Tyrone, and his wife Paula, were to contest a decision that they should be tried for alleged mortgage fraud by a judge sitting without a jury.

But the High Court hearing did not go ahead after it emerged that two of their barristers, London-based QC Raza Husain and his junior Dan Squires, were held up because of the air travel crisis.

With the criminal case on hold until the legal challenge is resolved, the judicial review case will now take place next month instead.

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