I completely disagree that suspected rapists should get lifetime anonymity. The jury is not always 100% correct.
PEOPLE accused of sex offences in the Republic of Ireland could be granted lifetime anonymity if not convicted, under proposals contained in a review carried out after the high-profile rugby rape case trial.
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Barrister Tom O’Malley chaired the review after the 2018 Belfast trial of Ireland internationals Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding led to demands on both sides of the border for changes the way the judicial systems handle such cases. Jackson was acquitted of rape and sexual assault while fellow Ulster player Olding was cleared of rape. Two other men were also acquitted in connection with the case. In the south, only those accused of rape are granted anonymity, but among 50 recommendations is the extension to people accused of sexual assault. It also calls for an update of legislation used to prosecute people for revealing complainant’s identity in the media to include social media.
If adopted it would see the establishment of preliminary trial hearings “as soon as possible” to deal with legal issues and reduce delays in the judicial system. The accused’s defence team would also have to make it clear at that stage they plan to question a complaint about his or her previous sexual experience. It recommends that any statutory restriction on this questioning strike a balance between respecting rights to personal privacy and human dignity and ensuring a fair trial for the accused. The review warns that an outright ban would be unacceptable as it would (could) create the risk of an occasional miscarriage of justice, suggesting instead a formal code of practice to govern the collection and disclosure of a complainant’s text messages, social media and internet usage.
The working group also recommends a government-sponsored public education programme on the meaning and importance of consent in sexual relationships and activity and a website with comprehensive information for victims of sexual crime set up and regularly promoted.
“[It] is a clear recognition from government that it is not appropriate to treat crimes of sexual violence just like any other crime” Noeline Blackwell
It would include information on sexual offences, the trial process, availability of legal advice, counselling, therapy and other help. In addition, the group recommends training for all gardaí in front-line policing on dealing with sexual crime complaints and with other witnesses, including suspects vulnerable because of age or disability. Dublin Rape Crisis Centre (DRCC) chief executive Noeline Blackwell said the reforms would “greatly improve” the process for victims and “is a clear recognition from government that it is not appropriate to treat crimes of sexual violence just like any any other crime”. The Council of The Bar Of Ireland warned the provision of adequate resources and funding is “critical” to make the changes. Minister for Justice Helen McEntee said if victims come forward “they will be listened to… heard… treated with respect and dignity, and… supported through what is a very difficult process”. A “clear implementation” plan will be in place in 10 weeks.
With many thanks to: The Irish News and Bimpe Archer for the original story –email@example.com
In another incident a masked gang of up to 20 people, some armed with metal bars, tried unsuccessfully to hijack a man’s car.
There were further hijackings and attempted hijackings in the city last night, after similar incidents in recent days.
Youths threw petrol bombs, paint bombs and other missiles at police in two separate locations as officers responded to a hoax security alert on Skeoge Road and later to the hijacking of the recovery lorry near Galliagh roundabout. Police said around 150 young people had gathered close to the roundabout and officers were attacked.
Two to three men stopped the recovery vehicle and one of them poured fuel inside the lorry “covering the driver”.
“Both males managed to escape from the vehicle in what was a terrifying ordeal for them and get to safety before the truck was set alight.
“NIFRS and police attended the scene where a crowd of around 150 people had gathered. Some of those who had gathered threw missiles, including stones and bottles, at officers. A petrol bomb was also thrown but failed to ignite.
“As this was taking place, police received a report of an attempted hijacking in Galliagh Park where a woman was stopped by a young masked male who tried to take her vehicle – a black Kia – using a wheelbrace. The woman managed to flee to safety. Damage was caused to the car door, and the woman was understandably left shaken.”
Police said the third incident took place at around 12:40am today when a van was hijacked and set alight in Fergleen Park.
Another attempted hijacking was reported just after 2am when up to 20 masked people, some armed with metal bars, tried unsuccessfully to hijack a man’s car on Fairview Road
A number of vehicles were also hijacked in the city on Tuesday August 4.
Derry and Strabane District Commander Chief Superintendent Emma Bond said the violence was “not representative of this city” and was taking place against the backdrop of the death and funeral of former SDLP and civil rights leader John Hume.
She said police had gathered evidence with a view to making arrests and asked community and elected representatives to continue using their influence.
“This has been the third night of disorder in our city at the hands of cowards determined to cause disruption in our communities. It is unacceptable and I am very disappointed people made a deliberate decision to go out onto the streets and cause trouble,” CS Bond said.
“Yesterday, the world’s media was focused on the city as John Hume was laid to rest. The scenes in our communities last night are not representative of this city.
“I want to stress the disorder we have seen on our streets over the past few nights has been caused by a minority of people who have absolutely no regard for our communities being impacted, and the people who live here.”
CS Bond had a message for onlookers.
“I would also urge anyone, including those who gathered to watch this disorder last night to understand this is not entertainment. This is dangerous, reckless activity, which has a significant impact on not only the people whose vehicles were targeted, but also on the local communities.”
She thanked community and elected representatives who had been on the ground last night and asked them to continue to use their influence “to help us maintain control of the situation so we don’t have another night of disorder and our communities don’t come under attack again”.
“We have gathered evidence in relation to these incidents and are working to identify those responsible and those involved and we can assure the public we will be working towards making arrests,” she added.
With many thanks to: The Irish News and Maeve Connolly for the original story
A MOTION opposing the extradition of a man held liable for the Omagh bomb is expected to fall tonight when local councillors are asked to ratify it.
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Relatives of victims of the 1998 Real IRA reacted angrily earlier this month when Sinn Féin, SDLP and some independent representatives on Fermanagh and Omagh District Council backed the proposal by independent Bernice Swift, is to write to the taoiseach voicing concerns about Liam Campbell’s extradition to Lithuania. Campbell (58), who was found liable in a civil (not criminal) court for the Omagh attack along with three other men in 2009 (now is 2020 11 years later), was arrested in Upper Faughart, Dundalk in December 2016 on foot of a European Arrest Warrant issued by Lithuanian authorities. He is alleged to have organised smuggling of weapons for the Real IRA between the end of 2006 and the beginning of 2007.
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The High Court in Dublin ordered Campbell’s extradition following a lengthy legal battle, with a judge concluding there was no evidence he would be subjected to inhuman and degrading prison conditions. However, at a July 8th meeting of Fermanagh and Omagh District Council’s policy and resources committee, a majority of councillors voted to record their opposition to the extradition in a letter to Michéal Martin, on the grounds that Campbell’s human rights would be breached by poor prison conditions in the Baltic state. Within 24 hours of the meeting the SDLP group leader on the council apologised, saying it was “wrong” to support the motion and it would be opposed when it came before the full council for ratification.
Sinn Féin said it supported the motion on the basis that its “council group was of the view that the human rights concerns raised merited discussion by the full council”. It added that it “will ensure that the concerns and needs of the victims of the Omagh bombing are also reflected in that debate”. The party said last night that it has tabled an amendment to the motion “highlighting our concerns about the human rights of Liam Campbell”. The amendment also reiterates our utter condemnation of the Omagh bombing, our support for the victims and their families and our resolve to see those responsible being held accountable in a judicial and legal process.”
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DUP group leader Errol Thompson described the motion as “disgraceful and a total insult to the innocent victims of the Omagh bomb”. He said the party has also lodged a complaint to the Local Government Standards Commissioner in relation to Ms Swift and the chair of the policy and resources committee, Sinn Féin’s Stephen McCann. Claire Monteith, whose brother Alan Radford was killed in the blast, has also reported Ms Swift and Mr McCann to the local government Ombudsman. The Ulster Unionists have also tabled a counter motion tonight expressing solidarity with the victims of the bomb, in which 29 people including a woman pregnant with twins, were killed. It says the publicity surrounding the proposal to write to the taoiseach has “caused further pain and anguish anguish amongst the victims and their relatives”.
With many thanks to: The Irish News and John Manley Political Correspondent – firstname.lastname@example.org
A ROW has broken out in England after a former judge suggested using non-jury trials to relieve a backlog in the judicial system.
His honour Michael Heath suggested that suspending trial by jury on a temporary basis could help alleviate the problem. Mr Heath said that while jury trials are “the cornerstone of our criminal justice system will implode”. However, while Covid has contributed to the backlog of cases in England and Wales it is certainly not completely responsible. I say England and Wales because that was the jurisdiction that Mr Heath was talking about when he made his ‘radical’ suggestion. His comments drew criticism from a number of quarters. Among them the Secret Barrister, an online cover name for a serving QC responsible for a best selling book about the workings, and at times shambolic, nature of the judicial system (His/her book is very good, I highly recommend it). The Secret Barrister argued that while the backlog of cases is unacceptable, “tearing up the right to jury trial, and replacing it with trial by a single judge and two magistrates” was not the answer. “It would be a disaster. Make no mistake.
“Whatever the arguments for and against jury trial, it is beyond dispute that trial by a single judge and two magistrates is a lesser form of Justice” the Secret Barrister added. There was a flurry of comments agreeing with the online expert about this proposed perversion of justice. Meanwhile in the North of Ireland we’ve had non-jury trials since 1973, and they remain in place 22 years after the signing of the Good Friday Agreement. The government technically abolished the old Diplock Courts in 2007. However, it give the Director of Public Prosecutions power to decide when cases should be tried without a jury, particularly if there was a chance of jurors being intimidated. That has to be reviewed every two years with it next under consideration in April 2021. And so if the argument is that dispensing with a jury speeds up the process, then the state of the North of Ireland’s judicial system would suggest that is simply not the case, not the sase
The trial of Colin Duffy (52) and his co-defdants Alex McCory (58) and 51-year-old Harry Fitzsimons is still ongoing in a Diplock Court in Belfast. The three men were arrested after an attack on a police patrol in north Belfast in December 2013.
It is now June 2020, any verdict in that trial is likely to coincide with the seventh anniversary of the gun attack the three men deny taking part in. And so the removal of a jury is certainly not the magic wand to speedy justice, not in the North of Ireland anyway. The underfunding of the legal system over many years has placed enormous stress on the system. But it goes deeper than that as anyone that has ever worked in a court in the North will tell you. The wheels of justice turn painfully slow in this part of the world.
There are plans under way to try and rectify that, to do away with committal hearings in serious cases that spend months bouncing around a Magistrates Court before being sent to the Crown where they were destined for anyway. A consultation is to be carried out to consider a strategic approach to restorative practices for adults in the criminal justice system.
Diversionary orders could be used to deal with less serious cases where there is no risk to the public. But all of this takes time, requires proper funding and a buy-in from all involved agencies. In the interim, victims often drop out of cases or are put through further truma having to live with the anxious anticipation of giving evidence for months, even years – a completely unacceptable situation. A decision on returning to the use of juries for serious or paramilitary trails remains years away. Will we once again have the extension of a ‘lesser form of Justice’ here in the North of Ireland, where there are frequent reminders that despite the words of Margaret Thatcher, when it comes to equality under law we are definitely not “as British as Finchley”.
AWith many thanks to the: Irish News and Allison Morris Security Correspondent for the original story
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A SUGGESTION that the families of two young teenagers murdered by plastic bullets in 1981 (the year the 10 men died on hunger-strike) including Bobby Sands.
Should use the Freedom of Information (FoI) request to access files on their deaths has been dismissed as “unacceptable”. SDLP leader Colum Eastwood raised the cases of Paul Whitters (15) and Julie Livingstone (14) with Secretary of State Brandon Lewis in the House of Commons yesterday. Paul Whitters was murdered in Derry in April 1981 while Julie Livingstone, was murdered in Belfast the following month.
Government files relating to their killings have been reclassified and closed until 2059 and 2064 respectively despite appeals by their families for access. The family of Julie Livingstone said the decision that no-one who knew the teenager personally would be alive when the file was opened. At Secretary of State’s questions yesterday, Mr Eastwood told Mr Lewis there was “no good reason” to keep the files closed and asked: “Will he now act to allow the parents of those children to see the files?” Mr Lewis said he had “enormous” sympathy for families of those who died during the Troubles, especially children. He said the next step for the families should be to submit a Freedom of Information request to the National Archive. However, Sarah Duddy of the Pat Finucane Centre said Mr Lewis’s suggestion had been dismissed by the families in the past.
With many thanks to: The Irish News and Seamus McKinney 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
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A DECISION not to prosecute the British soldier who shot dead a teenager in Derry 46 years ago was based on “irredeemably flawed” reasoning, the High Court has ruled.
Judges held that former Director of Public Prosecutions Barra McGrory imposed too stringent an evidential test for the murder of Daniel Hegarty. Quashing his decision, they also ruled that a four-year delay in reaching it was “manifestly excessive, inexplicable, unjustified and unlawful”.
The verdict represents victory in the legal challenge mounted by relatives of the 15-year-old schoolboy. Daniel was unarmed when he was shot twice in the head during an army operation in the Creggan area of the city in July 1972. In 2011 an inquest jury unanimously found Daniel posed no risk and had been shot without warning. Prompting the coroner to refer the case back to the Public Prosecution Service.
But in March 2016 it was decided not to pursue charges against Soldier B, who fired the fatal rounds, on the basis of no reasonable prospect of a conviction. According to the PPS, forensic experts were unable to state that ballistics evidence was inconsistent with Soldier B’s account of the circumstances in which he fired. Daniel’s sister, Margaret Brady, then issued judicial review proceedings against the decision taken by the then director.
Her senior counsel, Michael Mansfield QC, argued that expert evidence completely refutes assertions that the bullets were fired in self-defence. Instead, he contended, the scientific opinion backed the family’s belief that it was an unlawful killing carried out at a range of less than 10 feet. In a statement the soldier claimed to have pulled the trigger on the machine gun while it was on the ground – an account Daniel’s family allege was contrived to suggest fear of a non-existent threat.
The court heard two conflicting narratives about the events leading up to the shooting. Soldier B, backed by a military colleague, portrayed a situation where they issued clear warning as aggrieved, threatening youths approached before opening fire from a distance of some 25 metres. But in a different scenario advanced by others at the scene the youths were not warned or challenged, only becoming aware of the soldiers presence when shots rang out at point blank range. referring to expert evidence. Mr Mansfield contended that Soldier B’s self-defence assertion lacked any credibility.
Although he accepted a conviction could not be guaranteed, the barrister nevertheless claimed a jury may establish proof beyond reasonable doubt. Counsel for the director agreed that the case was subjected to close forensic analysis, with two expert reports and advice from senior counsel. He also stressed the high threshold required to rebut the soldier’s claims, and to establish perversity in the decision-making process.
But Lord Justice Treacy, sitting with Mr Justice Colton, pointed out that the Public Prosecution Service only needs to be satisfied there is credible evidence which could be proved – not that there will definitely be a conviction. Referring to expert conclusions provided in November 2012, he said: “Had the decision been taken at that time it seems inevitable in light of the scientific evidence and the legal advice that the director must have concluded that the test for prosecution was then satisfied.” Ruling that the director imposed too stringent a test, the judge continued: “We consider that the reasoning leading to the impugned decision not to prosecute is irredeemably flawed. ” In particular the decision of the director is founded on an unreasonable and rationally unsustainable hypothesis which is inconsistent with the case made by Soldier B.”
With many thanks to: The Irish News for the origional story.