Shooting accused Gerry McGeough 'sought Swedish asylum'

image captionGerry McGeough denies a charge of attempted murder

A republican accused of trying to murder a UDR man told Swedish immigration authorities he shot a British soldier, a court has been told.

Gerry McGeough denies attempting to murder Samuel Brush in June 1981.

Swedish immigration legal expert Helene Hedribris told Belfast Crown Court Mr McGeough tried to claim political asylum in August 1983.

She quoted from a letter she said was from Mr McGeough in which he discussed ambushing and shooting a soldier.

The trial has already heard that Mr Brush, who also worked as a postman, was making a delivery to a house north of Aughnocloy, County Tyrone, and had just put a letter through the letterbox when he saw a masked gunman stepping out from an adjacent shed, turn in his direction and shoot at him from about 12 feet.

However, a bullet proof jacket saved his life and he returned fire with his own pistol, wounding the gunman.

The prosecution told the court Mr McGeough was treated in Monaghan Hospital before being flown to a Dublin hospital where he was treated for a gunshot wound.

He later escaped despite being under armed guard.

On Thursday, Mrs Hedribis quoted from Mr McGeough's letter: "I went there to ambush him and in accordance with the Geneva Convention, I wore military uniform.

"I shot him in the chest but I now realise that he was wearing a bullet proof vest under his shirt. He returned fire and wounded me."

The letter, which was also said to have outlined Irish history from the 1200s until the 1980s, went on to say a priest gave him the last rites while he was in Monaghan Hospital.

Mr McGeough said that after he escaped, he went to America where he arranged for arms, missiles and ammunitions to be sent to the IRA in Northern Ireland.

"At one stage we were introduced to dealers who promised to get us surface to air missiles to take out British helicopters," the letter says, but it adds: "As it turned out these were FBI agents and they had recorded our meetings."

Asylum sought

The letter claims that by 1982, he was back in Ireland but fearful that if caught, the authorities "would kill me" but had heard that Sweden was granting asylum to other refugees from around the world and decided to go there "for the chance to live an ordinary life, free from the constant fear of death".

Asked by prosecuting lawyer David McDowell if Mr McGeough had been granted asylum, Mrs Hebridis said he had not and also that an appeal against the decision was also refused.

Mr McGeough was arested in March 2007 as he left a polling station in Fermanagh where he was standing as a republican candidate,

The 51 year-old from the Carrycastle Road, Gortmerron, Dungannon, is also accused of possessing two revolvers used in the atack and two counts of being a member of the IRA on dates between January 1975 and June 1981.

Alongside him in the dock is 47-year-old Vincent McAnespie, from Aghabo Close in Aughnacloy, who denies possessing guns and ammunition with intent to endanger life and under suspicious circumstances and a further charge of impeding the apprehension of Mr McGeough by hiding the pistols.

The trial continues.