Stephen Murney released on bail as judge retires to make trial decision
Wednesday, January 29th, 2014
A Newry man facing charges related to terrorism has been released on bail.
éirígí party member Stephen Murney was accused of having information useful to terrorists after pictures appeared on his Facebook page of serving PSNI officers.
The dramatic twist occurred late yesterday afternoon at the conclusion of oral submissions by both the prosecution and defence on what was the fifth day of hearings in the case of the 30-year-old Derrybeg man.
At the end of those submissions, the judge said she would consider a bail application from the defence as it was unlikely that she would be in a position reach a decision in the case until 17th February.
In contrast to all other bail applications made since Stephen’s arrest in 2012, the judge then released Stephen on a personal surety of £200 and an independent surety of £1,000, along with several conditions including a night-time curfew.
The bail conditions imposed by previous courts which included wearing an electronic tag, not being allowed to enter Newry city for any reason and having to reside at an address at least 12 miles from Newry were not enforced.
On Monday 27th January, the judge announced her decision in respect of last Thursday’s application by the defence for all charges to be struck out. She then dismissed that application.
At the end of his evidence, the prosecution stated they were seeking a disclosure ruling before another judge prior to their cross-examination of Stephen. The scene then moved back to the original court-room where Stephen was intensely cross-examined by the prosecution throughout the morning. After lunch, a closing submission was made by the prosecution.
The defence submission followed with the judge being alerted to the wider political and human rights implications regarding the charges against Stephen including possible infringements of his rights under Articles 7 and 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
Given Stephen’s membership of a political party and his position within the party as a local public relations officer, his defence case was that the photographs which the charges related to were ones taken in the course of legitimate political activities and which had been used to accompany party news stories and party press releases to the local media.
As it was approaching the court’s daily closing time, the judge then stated that, as it would clearly take some considerable time to deliberate on her decision, that she would accept a bail application.
Shortly after 5pm, Stephen Murney walked out of Laganside court-house accompanied by his family along with Eirigi members and a number of his friends.
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