‘It’s our case that police have manipulated and subverted the appeal process – Barry Macdonald QC.
POLICE decision-making and arresting officers are to give evidence about an alleged attempt to sabotage appeals by two men jailed for murdering Constable Stephen Carroll, a court has heard. Amid repeated claims that the PSNI/RUC tried to stymie the legal process by detaining a new witness, senior judges were told covert surveillance recordings were also to be examined.
Details emerged as an unprecedented bid to secure independent oversight of the ongoing police investigation was put back until October. Interference has been alleged by lawyers for John Paul Wotton and Brendan McConville, both of whom are seeking to overturn their murder convictions. Constable Carroll was ambushed and shot dead as he responded to a 999 call at Lismore Manor, Craigavon on March 2009. McConville (41), of Glenholme Avenue in the town, is serving at least a 25-year sentence for the killing. Wotton (22), of Collindale, Lurgan, received a minimum 14-year term. Days before their joint appeal was to get under way last month, a man related to a key prosecution witness was arrested and held for two days before being released without charge. This man has made a sworn court statement branding his relative a compulsive liar.
According to defence lawyers police arrested him in a bid to pressure him into withdrawing his evidence and told him he would be discredited if he testified.The lawyers want the Court of Appeal to direct independent oversight of this aspect of the investigation. One option would be for the Criminal Cases Review Commission to intervene. A separate request has been made to the police oombudsman to look into allegations of misconduct. In court yesterday Barry Macdonald QC, for McConville, said : “It’s our case that police have manipulated and subverted the appeal process.” Questions to be decided in the defence application include :
- Was the surveillance operation properly authorised under laws governing the use of covert techniques?
- Was the arrest of the new witness lawful and necessary?
- Was there any attempt to presuade or coerce him to alter his evidence?
- Has there been any police manipulation of the process?
- If so, what are the consequences?
Mr Macdonald said he intended to call the new wwitness and at least one solicitor to testify. Ciaran Murphy QC, for the Public Prosecution Service, told the court that all police officers who had either decided to make the arrest or carried it out would be expected to give evidence. All interviews and recordings should be gone through as well, in a process that could take days, he suggested. Mr Murphy said he was satisfied proper authorisation was obtained in relation to the covert material. “If there is action by the police either inappropriate or unlawful, past or future, there is a clear remedy open to the defendants,” he said. However, Mr Macdonald expressed concern that the application would not be heard until October, when the appeal itself is scheduled to begin. “In the absence of any measures to provide independent oversight of this investigation the court itself will have exposed itself to possible liability for breach of article 6 [ right to a fair trial ],” the lawyer said. The case was adjourned for a further review next month.
With many thanks to : Irish News.
- Sabotage claim in PSNI murder appeal (bbc.co.uk)
- Men Jailed for Carroll Killing Get Date for Legal Challenge (seachranaidhe1.wordpress.com)
- Chief Constable Stays Silent About Officers Suing Victims ! (seachranaidhe1.wordpress.com)
- Security Force Surveillance of Justice Group (seachranaidhe1.wordpress.com)
- ON 15th JULY I WAS ARRESTED BY THE PSNI/RUC DURING AN EARLY MORNING RAID ON MY HOME (seachranaidhe1.wordpress.com)
- Talks in Wales Evidence of ‘Political Policing’ : Loyalists (seachranaidhe1.wordpress.com)