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01/04/2011

Capt Nairac Murder Accused 'Not Guilty'

An infamous IRA murder was in focus today with a Co Armagh man cleared of the murder of undercover soldier Captain Robert Nairac 33 years ago.

Kevin Crilly, 60, from Jonesborough, was accused of the murder after the daring undercover Army officer was abducted from a bar at Drumintee in south Armagh in May 1977 before being killed.

A judge at Belfast Crown Court has now cleared Mr Crilly of involvement in the murder and also cleared him of four other charges, including kidnapping and false imprisonment. He said Mr Crilly was present on the night and had picked up the man who murdered Captain Nairac - Liam Townson - but it had not been proved he knew what was going to happen.

The judge also said forensic evidence did not establish Mr Crilly's guilt beyond doubt. Three men have previously been convicted of murdering Capt Nairac who was posthumously awarded the George Cross.

Mr Justice Richard McLaughlin had been considering his verdict for a month following the no-jury trial.

The prosecution claimed that following the kidnapping of Captain Nairac from the Three Steps Inn, the defendant, Mr Crilly - then aged 26 - picked up the gunman Liam Townson, who was later convicted by the Special Criminal Court in Dublin.

He allegedly drove the soldier to the bridge in Ravensdale Forest, Co Louth - where, according to Townson, he was shot.

Following the murder, Mr Crilly allegedly went on the run in the USA for nearly three decades.

(BMcC)

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