DPP will not oppose Colombia Three man’s appeal

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The Director of Public Prosecutions will not be opposing one of the so-called Colombia Three’s appeal against a weapons conviction, a court heard yesterday.

Counsel for Barra McGrory invited senior judges to exercise their discretion to quash the guilty verdict against Martin McCauley because relevant material was withheld at trial.

The development comes just days before a planned hearing of McCauley’s challenge to being convicted of having three rifles more than 30 years ago. Judges yesterday listed the appeal for a one-day hearing.

The 52-year-old, from Lurgan, was arrested along with Niall Connolly and James Monaghan in Colombia in 2001 and accused of IRA training of rebel Farc guerrilla forces. They were cleared of the charge, only to be convicted on appeal and sentenced to 17 years in jail. But the three men avoided imprisonment by fleeing Colombia in 2004, turning up in the Irish Republic a year later.

Even though McCauley faces extradition to South America if he returns to Northern Ireland, the Court of Appeal in Belfast is examining a weapons conviction dating from an incident in 1982.