Northern Ireland

Trial of Martin Edward Morris for IRA membership collapses

Belfast Crown Court
Image caption Mr Morris had been due to stand trial at Belfast Crown Court

The trial of a man accused of being a member of the Provisional IRA has collapsed at Belfast Crown Court.

Martin Edward Morris, 49, from Welbeck Road, London, was due to stand trial on a single charge of professing to be a member of the IRA between 1 August 1997 and 30 June 2000.

A prosecution lawyer told the court that the Crown were "offering no evidence against the defendant".

The judge then recorded a finding of not guilty against Mr Morris.

Two days had been set aside for the non-jury Diplock trial, but the opening was delayed because of legal argument.

The court heard the only evidence against Mr Morris, formerly from the Falls Road, west Belfast, was that of a female complainant.

She had told police that Mr Morris had professed to her to being a member of the Provisional IRA.

Prosecuting counsel had applied for the witness to be allowed to give her evidence at the trial by way of a live video link.

He told the court the witness was "in fear'' of giving evidence in open court against the defendant.

She had claimed in a statement to police that at a previous court hearing last December, Mr Morris had "glared'' at her.

However, Mr Morris's defence lawyer had objected to the special measures application on the grounds of lateness in the hearing and also that it was prejudicial to Mr Morris.

He said the statement claimed that at another hearing Mr Morris had "intentionally waited for her coming out of the lift".

The defence lawyer said that in all likelihood he would have to seek copies of the CCTV system in the court foyer for that date to check out her claims, which could result in a possible delay in the trial.

However, following consultations with the Public Prosecution Service, a prosecution lawyer later returned to the court to state that "no evidence'' was now being offered against Mr Morris.