Murder Acquittal

A 60-year-old man who was tried in connection with the abduction and murder of an undercover British army officer shot dead in Ravensdale woods has been found not guilty.

A 60-year-old man who was tried in connection with the abduction and murder of an undercover British army officer shot dead in Ravensdale woods has been found not guilty.

Kevin Crilly of Lower Foughill Road in Jonesborough, South Armagh was accused of the murder of Capt Robert Nairac in May 1977 and four other related charges.

Mr Justice Richard McLaughlin, sitting in Belfast Crown Court without a jury, cleared him on Friday, April 1, saying there was insufficient proof to link the defendant to the murder charge.

He told the court it had been established that Mr Crilly had been present at the soldier’s abduction and had picked up the eventual murderer in his car.

However, the judge added that it had not been proven beyond reasonable doubt that he had done so with a view to murder.

Capt Nairac, a member of the Grenadier Guards, was kidnapped from the Three Steps Inn in Dromintee, Co Armagh, where he had allegedly been singing rebel songs.

The undercover British army officer had claimed to be a republican from Belfast called Danny. However, he aroused suspicions and as he attempted to leave the pub, he was bundled into a car.

Capt Nairac was interrogated about his true idenity and was shot dead at Ravensdale, north of Dundalk some time later.

The prosecution had claimed Mr Crilly, aged 26 at the time, dropped off the killer, Liam Townson, who was later convicted by the Special Criminal Court in Dublin of Capt Nairac’s murder.

Mr Crilly, whose birth name is Declan Power, left the North after the murder and spent 27 years in the US before returning to Ireland.

Judge McLaughlin said the prosecution had failed to prove beyond reasonable doubt that Mr Crilly, had a “knowing participation in a potential murder”.

He was cleared on all five charges which he faced.