A high-profile republican accused of murdering 29 people in the Omagh bomb atrocity was being sought by police for five years, the High Court heard today.
Seamus Daly was living “under the radar” close to the Irish border before being arrested at a shopping centre car park in Newry, Co Down, prosecutors claimed.
As he was refused bail it was confirmed that charges were brought based on a review of available evidence rather than any new material.
The case against him centres on telephone analysis allegedly linking him to the outrage.
A former business associates who says he spoke to him on a mobile believed to have been used by the bomb team is a “pivotal” prosecution witness, a judge was told.
Daly faces 29 counts of murder over the August 1998 Real IRA attack.
The 43-year-old bricklayer, originally from Cullaville, Co Monaghan, but now residing in Jonesborough, Co Armagh, also faces counts of causing the explosion in Omagh and possession of a bomb in the Co Tyrone market town with intent to endanger life or property.
He is further charged with conspiring to cause an explosion and having explosives with intent in connection with a separate dissident bomb plot in Lisburn, Co Down in April that year.
No one has ever been convicted in connection with the massacre at Omagh.
Defence counsel Dermot Fee QC argued that the case against his client is too weak for criminal charges.
Rejecting any suggestion that the accused had been evading the authorities, the barrister said he has been in Northern Ireland for nearly three years.
“He’s just been living a normal family life at that location,” he added.
However, Mr Justice Treacy held that the prosecution had established a reasonable suspicion against Daly.
Bail was refused due to the twin risks the accused may commit other serious offences or flee.
The judge pointed to Daly’s decision not to appear at any stage during the civil case against him and three other men held liable, and added: “I also take into account the prosecution contention that they have been looking for the applicant for five years.”