Colin Duffy to stand trial on gun attack terror charges

Colin Duffy leaves Belfast Crown Court after Thursday's proceedings
Colin Duffy leaves Belfast Crown Court after Thursday's proceedings

Three men, including prominent Lurgan republican Colin Duffy, are to stand trial later this year on charges arising out of a gun attack on a police patrol in December 2013.

The trio – Colin Francis Duffy, Henry Joseph Fitzsimons and Alex McCrory – appeared at Belfast Crown Court on Thursday where they denied a string of charges linked to the Ardoyne shooting, including directing terrorism.

The court heard that the Diplock non-jury trial is expected to last between six to eight weeks.

While it is the prosecution case the trio were secretly recorded the day after the shooting near 49-year old Duffy’s Forest Glade home, only Fitzsimons and McCrory are accused of involvement in the gun attack on the police convoy on Belfast’s Crumlin Road on December 5, 2013.

Both Fitzsimons, 48, of no fixed abode and 55-year-old McCrory from Sliabh Dubh View in Belfast deny attempting to murder members of the PSNI, and of possessing the two AK47 assault rifles and ammunition used in the attack.

Along with Duffy, they were also charged with the preparation of terrorist acts, namely holding a meeting in Lurgan Park the following day, to discuss matters in relation to terrorism.

The three co-accused were also charged with and deny both directing a terrorist organisation between December 31, 2012 and December 16, 2013, and of belonging to or professing to belong to a proscribed organisation – the Irish Republican Army – on the same dates.

After the trio denied all the charges against them, Mr Justice Treacy was informed there would be a number of applications made to the court ahead of the trial.

These applications include reports linked to the covert surveillence both in Lurgan Park, and regarding Duffy alone, from secret recordings in Santa Ponsa.

The case is due to be reviewed in four weeks time, with the judge expressing the hope that by February 23, defence teams for the defendants “will have outlined what their timetable is for the provision of various reports”.

All three men were released on continuing bail.