‘Vulnerable individual’ charged with attempted murder of soldiers
A 39-year-old man has appeared in court accused of assisting offenders in relation to the murder of a Catholic police officer in the city almost 20 years ago.
Christopher O’Kane, of Kular Court, is further charged with membership of the Provisional IRA between January 1, 1991 and December 31, 1996; the attempted murder of two soldiers on December 14, 1993; and the attempted murder of a third soldier in May, 1994.
During an appearance at Derry Magistrate’s Court this morning, O’Kane refused to stand as the charges were being read or to confirm his details.
When asked to confirm he understood the charges, he nodded his head.
Members of Constable Ferguson’s family were in court for the brief appearance.
The police officer from Omagh was 21 when he was killed outside the Richmond Centre.
An investigating officer told the court he believed he could connect the 39-year-old to the charges.
Defence solicitor Ciaran Shiels told the court his client had been released from Gransha [Hospital] on Thursday afternoon and was arrested later that night.
He added that O’Kane was a “vulnerable individual” with considerable mental health problems and had been in Gransha Hospital 15 times in the last four years.
Mr Shiels said police were in constant contact with O’Kane during his stay in Gransha.
He added the 39-year-old made admissions to similar offences in 2008, when he turned up at the police station in his bare feet with alcohol and tablets taken.
However, the investigating officer confirmed that at the time the prosecution decided the test for prosecution was not met.
He said during interview O’Kane gave a “very, very detailed account” of a number of incidents including mortar attacks and punishment beatings.
The officer added that the 39-year-old could have been charged with up to 30 offences.
He told the court he had “no doubt” over O’Kane’s credibility.
Defence solicitor Ciaran Shiels said there would be a bail application at a later date.
The 39-year-old was remanded in custody and will appear in court again via videolink on October 25.
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Friday 24 May 2013
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