WEDNESDAY 09/07/2003 17:33:32
McKevitt trial update
The FBI spy testifying against alleged Real IRA chief Michael McKevitt was questioned by police for driving a 15-year-old girl
around in a lorry for a week, a court heard today.
Former trucking company boss David Rupert said the teenager was a runaway from a children`s home and was taken around Alabama by
himself and another driver who was sleeping with her.
Mr Rupert, 51, also dismissed allegations that he had smuggled onions and marijuana across the Mexican border into the United
He said: ``This is truly a fairy tale. I have had no connection with smuggling.``
The spy, who was paid 1.25 million dollars (£780,000) by the FBI and MI5 to infiltrate dissident terror organisations, later said
he created an imaginary character called Ernest, whom he claimed would be able to get hold of military weapons.
His evidence is crucial to the state`s case against 53-year-old McKevitt, of Blackrock, Dundalk, County Louth, who denies
directing the Real IRA and being a member of the organisation which killed 29 people in the August 1998 Omagh bomb atrocity.
During cross-examination, Mr Rupert told Dublin`s Special Criminal Court that when he picked up the runaway teenager in the
1970s he was just the secondary driver of the truck.
The primary driver was sleeping with the girl and Mr Rupert was afraid to object in case he lost his job.
He said he did not know how long the girl had been on the run and that he believed she was later taken into care.
``She was in the truck that I was the driver of for a week,`` he said.
``I was simply interested in driving the truck and keeping my job.``
The 6ft 5in 20-stone informer said he was taken to a police station where he was questioned about the girl. Despite being
handcuffed he said he was not arrested.
Mr Rupert told the court that he failed to tell the Alabama troopers questioning him that they had driven the girl to the
west coast and back, which would have meant crossing state lines and therefore committing an offence.
Instead he led them to believe that she had been picked up more recently in Fort Worth, Texas.
During the proceedings the spy was asked by Hugh Hartnett SC, for the
defence, whether he had said his truck driver colleague - named as Mr Tuller - intended to take the teenager home and
``keep her like a puppy``.
Mr Rupert replied: ``He was going to take her home and was going to keep her and put her in school.``
He said he was confused about this arrangement, given that Mr Tuller had a wife and children at home.
``I didn`t understand how it was going to work,`` he told the court.
As he probed him about the incident the defence barrister asked Mr Rupert whether he had referred to the police who questioned
him as ``pigs``.
In response the agent recalled the night Mr Tuller was released and went out drinking, before being re-arrested by the same
officers on charges of intoxication.
He said: ``In that terminology I could have referred to them as pigs but I do not recall exactly.``