The Omagh bomb was murder and to suggest otherwise betrays ignorance of the law

The aftermath of the 1998 Irish republican terrorist car bomb massacre in Omagh, in which 29 people were murdered (including a woman pregnant with twins)
The aftermath of the 1998 Irish republican terrorist car bomb massacre in Omagh, in which 29 people were murdered (including a woman pregnant with twins)

It’s not only offensive to claim, as Jude Collins has done, that the 31 souls murdered by the Real IRA in its bombing of Omagh wasn’t murder, it betrays an unfortunate ignorance of the law.

So, to avoid such errors in future — and the unfortunate consequences that have resulted — her’s a basic primer.

Letter to the editor

Letter to the editor

Murder, as most know, requires: (a) unlawful killing; with (b) intent to cause death or serious injury.

Jude Collins’ claim is that, because the bombers gave a warning in advance, they did not ‘intend’ to kill anyone.

Setting aside such ‘alternative facts’, we should turn to the case of R v. Moloney (1985) in which it was clarified that intent can either be direct or indirect/oblique.

In short, even if we were to accept the analysis that the bombers did not have ‘direct intent’ (to be clear, we shouldn’t), they clearly had indirect/oblique intent.

In such instances, a jury in any murder trial should be asked the following: Firstly, was death or serious injury a natural consequence of the defendant’s (D’s) act? Secondly, did D foresee it as being a natural consequence of his act?

If the answer is yes to both questions then it is right to conclude that s/he intended that consequence.

Bombs are indiscriminate. They are hammers. Not scalpels.

You plant one, people will either be seriously injured or they will die. QED: Intent (whether direct or indirect); therefore, what happened at Omagh was murder.

To suggest otherwise, as Mr. Collins has done, unavoidably causes the families of those murdered severe distress.

Whether Mr Collins’ intention to do so was direct or oblique, the consequences remain the same.

Matthew Jury, Lawyer, McCue and Partners legal practice, London