The widow of a north Belfast man shot dead by the British army almost 50 years ago is set to launch legal action over a decision by prosecutors not to order a new PSNI investigation into the killing.
Isobel Copeland’s husband John died in October 1971. Mr Copeland (23) was shot close to his Ardoyne home by a member of the Green Howards regiment and died two days later. Just before he was killed another man, Michael McLarnon, was shot by troops in nearby Etna Drive and died a short time later. Mr Copeland’s widow is currently suing the Ministry of Defence for the alleged unlawful killing of her husband. In 2014 Attorney General John Larkin refused a request to order a fresh inquest into the case. However, after the release of a draft Historical Enquiries Team (HET) report by the RUC/PSNI, Mr Larkin was asked to revisit his original decision. In response he wrote to the Public Prosecution Service (PPS) asking them to direct the RUC/PSNI to investigate the shooting.
The PPS has subsequently refused to make what is known as a section 35 (5) referral.
“We have been fighting this for 15 years and it’s [still] going around. Hopefully we will get some sort of closure” Eddie Copeland
Mr Copeland’s son, prominent Belfast republican Eddie Copeland, said his family was disappointed by the latest decision. “Legacy cases are just dragging their heels and it’s really disappointing,” he said. “My mother is going into her seventies and we want some sort of closure for her before it’s too late.” Mr Copeland said he is mindful of other family’s who lost love and that his family is determined to continue their campaign despite the latest set back.
“I was one and half when my father was killed and my sister two and a half,” he said. “Between us there will be someone there to fight. “We have been fighting this for 15 years and it’s [still] going around. “Hopefully we will get some sort of closure.” Solicitor Kevin Winters, of KRW Law, said as a result of the Attorney General’s intervention the Copeland family had “raised expectations that at last their case would be looked at”. “With decisions like this you cannot blame families if they become disillusioned,” he said. Mark Thompson from Relatives for Justice, who has helped the Family, said: “Rather than acting in the interest of justice it appears the PPS is content with this continuing situation. “This is unacceptable.” A spokesman for the PPS said: “While we understand why families may view a section 35(5) request as a vehicle by which their case can be expedited, the Director of Public Prosecutions considered such a request inappropriate in this case. “The reasons for this have previously been outlined in a letter to the legal representatives of the Copeland family.”
With many thanks to: The Irish News and Connla Young for the original story
An Irish News journalist has revealed that she was harassed by her former partner for four years.
Speaking to BBC Radio Foyle, Allison Morris called for stalking legislation to be extended to Northern Ireland.
It comes days after Fernando Murphy, of Balholm Drive, in Belfast, was jailed for 10 offences, including harassment and breaching a restraining order.
“I was full of anxiety, my hair was falling out with stress,” the security correspondent said about her ordeal.
Murphy, 42, was handed a 14-month sentence at Belfast Magistrates’ Court last Thursday. He will spend half his sentence in prison and the other half on licence.
During four years of abuse, Ms Morris was subjected to “humiliating” behaviour, including Murphy coming to the Irish News and “shouting and screaming”.
It was when the harassment began to impact her family that the journalist decided to act.
“I sort of broke after that,” she said.
“I could take the abuse when it was me but when it was my daughter it was different.
“He knew that saying horrible, sexual, things about me wasn’t getting a reaction so he moved on to my family, and the targets became my children and my father, who is very ill, and my work.”
‘A big step’
Ms Morris said going to the police was “a big step”.
“As someone who is a crime and security correspondent, I deal with the police on a professional basis quite regularly, often quite critically and I hold them to account in a lot of cases, and I just really didn’t feel comfortable,” she said.
“I didn’t want people to think that I was weak, I didn’t want, in a very Belfast way, for people to know my business.”
Northern Ireland is the only region of UK or Ireland without stalking legislation and Ms Morris says she hopes that sharing her experience will change things.
“It made me angry because I was struggling to navigate it and through my work, I know the legal system.
“I thought ‘what must this be like for someone who doesn’t have this knowledge or support or wouldn’t know where to go to complain or appeal or to push things along?’ It’s such an emotionally destroying process that is desperately in need of change.”
Writing on Twitter on Monday afternoon, PSNI Chief Constable Simon Byrne said it was “brave and courageous” for Ms Morris to “make her terrible experience public”.
The PSNI currently deals with stalking under the Protection from Harassment Order (NI) 1997.
The Department of Justice held a public consultation last year on the creation of a specific stalking offence.
Its report on the findings said that the majority of respondents strongly supported the introduction of stalking legislation.
The department said it was “determined to do everything it can to protect victims and to stop perpetrators at the earliest opportunity”.
Justice Minister Naomi Long said she was “acutely aware of the distress that stalking behaviour can cause”.
She added that bringing forward legislation that offers the best protection for victims was a priority.
With many thanks to: BBC NewsNI for the original story
Follow these links to find out more: http://Judge refuses bid to overturn dissident republican Murphy’s alcohol ban
Abuse occurred in Ardoyne area in 70s and 80s
Two women who were sexually molested as children yesterday welcomed a 12-year sentence handed to their abuser declaring “we’ve finally got our justice”.
Francis McDonnell was jailed for what Judge Geoffrey Millar QC described as a “very serious case of pre-meditated abuse of young children, sustained over a period of several years”.
The 63-year old, originally from North Belfast and with an address of Ardowen in Craigavon, Co Armagh faced two trials last year and was convicted by a jury of offences against both complainants.
As the grandfather-of-16 was being led into custody from the dock of Downpatrick Crown Court in handcuffs, he turned to both his victims and said ‘you may hope I die in jail’.
Before handing McDonnell the sentence, which will be divided between six years behind bars followed by six years on licence, Judge Miller said that despite being convicted by a jury following two trials, he continues to maintain his innocence.
McDonnell claimed that whilst one of the complainants had a vendetta against him, he couldn’t actually remember the other complainant.
He targeted and sexually abused both complainants in the Ardoyne area of Belfast in the late 70s and early 80s, the court heard. Although both women want to remain anonymous, they wanted McDonnell to be named for the first time and the public made aware of the crimes he committed against them as children.
One of the victims, who is now 47, was first targeted by McDonnell when she was four and was abused until she was 11. The abuse ended for a period but he targeted her again when she was aged 14/15 when he raped her in his home.
Reacting to the sentence, she said: “He always told me nobody would believe me, but the truth came out and he’s in jail now. He still gives me the same feeling now as he did when I was a child. I still freeze, I’m still afraid of him. I can’t believe he threatened us, even now.
“He took my childhood away from me and to this day what he did affects me. I don’t hug people, I don’t like anyone touching me. I’m glad he’s in prison now.”
The second complainant was first abused when she was three, and his campaign continue until her family moved from the area when she was seven. She is now 43.
She said: “I moved away from Belfast because of what happened to me for a long time, and I thought it would be a case of ‘out of sight, out of mind,’ but it wasn’t.
“He ruined my life, he took my childhood away from me and I came back with the sole reason to get him for what he did. I went to Nexus in 2016 and now he’s locked up.
“He told us in court ‘you may hope I die in jail.’ Well, I hope he does.”
Peter Irvine QC, for the Crown, noted ten aggravating factors which included the vulnerability of both of McDonnell’s victims due to their young age, the “protracted” period of time the abuse occurred and also “the gap of four or five years before the offence of rape occurred”.
Mr Irvine also spoke of the lasting impact McDonnell’s actions have had on both women, and revealed McDonnell had previous convictions for abusing a five-year old and an eight-year old in the mid 80s.
Niall Hunt QC, representing McDonnell, said that since leaving school at 15, his client had a steady work record which included employment with the DoE.
He also told Judge Millar his client “is not in great health” which includes very poor eyesight.
Saying his client’s offending ended in the 80s, Mr Hunt added: “There are no further offences in the pipeline and no-one has suggested there is anything else hanging over him or waiting to come out.”
During yesterday’s sentencing, Judge Millar noted McDonnell’s continued denials and a lack of remorse. The Judge also said: “There can be no doubt that both complainants suffered trauma which has impacted on their development, childhood and into adulthood.”
Judge Millar handed McDonnell a 12-year sentence which he said was “justified and necessary” for the protection of the public. He also placed McDonnell on the Sex Offenders Register for an indefinite period, and made him the subject of a ten-year Sexual Offences Prevention Order.
With many thanks to: Belfast Live and Ashleigh McDonald for the original story
Follow this link to find out more: https://www.belfastlive.co.uk/news/belfast-news/north-belfast-women-finally-justice-17673194
POLICE have carried out searches at the offices of a republican prisoners’ group.
The Cogús offices in Ardoyne Avenue were searched yesterday morning and a number of items removed.
The office is linked to Republican Network for Unity and assists Oglaigh na hEireann (ONH) prisoners currently held in Maghaberry jail.
ONH called a ceasefire in January 2018.
However, members have been linked to the gangland-style murder of Jim Donegan in December 2018.
Republican Network for Unity posted on its Facebook page: “Following a number of recent PSNI attacks against our party and our activists, masked PSNI militia are currently searching our office premises in Ardoyne”.
With many thanks to: The Irish News and Allison Morris for the original story
Cliftonville drop Jay Donnelly after image conviction
An Irish Premiership football club has dropped one of its most prominent players for a match this weekend after he was convicted of distributing an indecent image of a child.
Cliftonville striker Jay Donnelly had continued to appear for his club after the allegation emerged.
The 23 year old admitted the charge last Friday and will be sentenced in January.
A separate count of taking or making an indecent photograph was withdrawn.
The north Belfast club said it is “dealing with a very sensitive and delicate matter” in relation to Donnelly.
‘Difficult to resolve’
It said its committee had been “availing of advice from all parties involved, as well as support organisations” because it wanted to make sure it acted “correctly when dealing with legal and employment matters”.
“We assure all that this situation is extremely difficult to resolve and ask our supporters and indeed the media to please bear with us as we seek a resolution,” the club added.
“Having spoken to all parties and Jay Donnelly, it has been decided Jay will not represent Cliftonville Football Club in [Saturday’s] fixture with Dungannon Swifts.”
The club added that it had received legal advice not to comment further on the case.
The Belfast Feminist Network was due to hold a protest against Donnelly’s inclusion in the team at Cliftonville’s Solitude ground on Saturday.
It has since called off the demonstration due to the club’s decision to drop the player.
‘Tackle misogyny robustly’
“We’re pleased that he’s not playing – that was our initial ask,” Elaine Crory from the organisation told the BBC’s Evening Extra programme.
But she said the club “could go further” by explaining what would happen next.
“Will he be playing in the coming weeks?” she asked.
“He won’t be sentenced until January so it remains to be seen what Cliftonville plan to do with him over the next couple of weeks and indeed into the future.”
Ms Crory said the Belfast Feminist Network sent a list of questions to the club about how it had handled the issue but did not get answers to all of them.
She called on all sports clubs to make sure they are “dealing with misogyny as robustly as they deal with sectarianism”.
On Friday, Cliftonville’s first team coach Neil Adair posted on Twitter that he had resigned from his role.
The Court Service has confirmed that Donnelly was convicted of one charge – distributing or showing an indecent image of a child on a date between June and October 2016.
Pre-sentence reports have been ordered before Donnelly, of Ardilea Drive in north Belfast, is due back in court early in the new year.
With many thanks to: BBCNI for the original story.
By Jane Loughrey
The teenage girl who was struck by a car in Ardoyne in north Belfast almost two years ago sobbed as she recounted to police how she thought she was going to die, as she lay trapped underneath it.
Phoebe Clawson’s evidence was heard at the trial of an Orangeman who is accused of running over her and of injuring five other people, including two police officers.
John Aughey denies six charges, including one of causing grievous injury to Phoebe Clawson, who was 16 years old at the time.
The 63-year-old from Brae Hill Park in Belfast is accused of driving into the crowd in Ardoyne who had gathered in what the prosecution described as an atmosphere of high tension at the flashpoint on 13 July 2015.
John Aughey claims he feared for his life after his car was kicked and a plastic bottle was thrown at it and said he was attempting to escape from a dangerous and escalating situation.
On Thursday afternoon, the trial heard an interview from Phoebe Clawson which was recorded by police in her home a month later.
In it Phoebe, who was in a wheelchair, described how she saw John Aughey reversing his car and putting down the window of his car as if to scare someone.
She said people started running and she ran too, but she didn’t really know what was going on, then she said the car struck her from behind and she was trapped underneath.
At this point she started weeping and sobbing, saying: “I was trying to move. A wheel was near my head. If it went over me one more time I would have been dead.”
Phoebe continued describing how police officers lifted the car to free her. She said: “I started squealing, I was scared. I thought I was going to die.”
Then she related how a priest came over and told her everything was going to be okay, and said she was shouting at him to “get my mummy”.
The police constable was heard asking her about her injuries and she said she suffered a shattered pelvis, fractured ankle and collar, was in hospital for two weeks had surgery that lasted five-and-a-half hours
When further asked how she was feeling she replied: “Useless”.
Under cross-examination from the defence QC, she said she remembered seeing a plastic bottle hitting the windscreen of John Aughey’s car but didn’t see anyone approach his car beforehand.
The jury was also shown police CCTV footage of the moment the car struck Phoebe Clawson.
Some of them gasped out loud and one juror clasped her hand over her mouth.
Judge Smyth told the jury that it was not the prosecution case, nor have they alleged that the defendant caused any of these injuries deliberately.
With many thanks to: UTV, for the origional story.
His funeral was delayed for three days due to attacks from the RUC.
There was a massive demonstration of popular resistance to British injustice on Wednesday when thousands upon thousands of people took to the streets of Belfast for the funeral of IRA Volunteer Larry Marley.
Two previous attempts to bury Volunteer Marley, who had been murdered by loyalist assassins at his Ardoyne home almost a week earlier, were frustrated by the heavy-handed actions of the RUC who did everything in their power to prevent a dignified funeral taking place.
Far from intimidating the Marley family, the actions of the RUC merely strengthened their resolve to ensure that their husband and father was buried with proper respect. For two days and nights, the eyes of Belfast, the rest of Ireland and beyond turned towards Ardoyne and to the bravery of the Marley family in the midst of their grief. That bravery inspired others. The number of mourners outside the Marley home grew and, at short notice, major demonstrations against the activities of the RUC and in support of the family were held in Andersonstown and Ardoyne itself.
Yet it was not until the actual funeral that the full measure of popular feeling could be properly gauged. Ignoring the vast array of plastic-bullet guns, helmets, armoured cars and rifles which are part and parcel of the machinery of repression seen at every republican funeral in recent years, the people came out in a spontaneous and moving gesture of solidarity and defiance.
Efforts by the RUC to impose its sectarian control over the funeral were frustrated by the sheer number of people, young and old, who turned out to join the procession or to line the route.
With many thanks to: Clan na Gael.