Masked flag-bearer appeals conviction

‘This classically is a case which calls for an answer from the person who knows whether he was on that march or not – Sir Declan Morgan.

A DERRY man given a suspended jail sentence for being the masked flag bearer in a republican parade was never properly identified, the Court of Appeal has heard. Lawyers for Patrick John McDaid argued that experts in facial mapping and image comparison techniques were not certain he had been the man pictured in a balaclava.

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As well as the photographs and facial mapping evidence, the judge in the non-jury trail in Belfast Crown Court heard how police later seized a document which purported to be minutes of a meeting to organise the march. It included the reference: ‘Colour party – McDaid to get people sorted’. But judges in the Court of Appeal were told on Tuesday that nothing more than a surname was found. Kieran Mallon QC, for McDaid, also challenged the strength of the evidence from an expert who noted striking similarities in the lips and eyes of his client and Man X. “It’s our contention there was not established any form of meaningful identification,” he said. “On balance he cannot say the accused and Mr X were one and the same person, primarily because there was no statistical database against which he could test an individual with that type of eye colour or lip shape.” Lord Chief Justice Declan Morgan, sitting with Lords Justice Girvan and Coghlin, drew his attention to two other strands of the prosecution case: McDaids name being on the organising document and his participation in previous events. Mr Mallon accepted there would have been clear suspicions, but contended this fell short of proof. Sir Declan then alluded to McDaid’s failure to give any evidence at trial. “This classically is a case which calls for an answer from the person who knows whether he was on that march or not,” he said. Judgment in the appeal was reserved.

With thanks to: The Irish News

‘GOOD SAMARITAN’ KILLING CONVICTION IS OVERTURNED !!!

http://thepensivequill.am/2013/06/the-accused.html

‘I spent 17 and a half years in jail for somethig. I didn’t do. I intend to seek compensation – Patrick Livingstone.

Pat Livingstone and Anthony McIntyre outside a H Block cell in 1991.
Pat Livingstone and Anthony McIntyre outside a H Block cell in 1991.

A MAN jailed for the notorious murder of a council worker in Belfast nearly 40 years ago has had his conviction quashed. Senior judges declared significant uneasea about the safety of the verdict against Patrick Livingstone for the so-called ‘Good Samaritan‘ killing of Protestant Samuel Llewellyn.

Patrick Livingstone leaves court with his son Cormac yesterday after being cleared of the 1975 murder of ‘Good Samaritian’ Samuel Llewellyn ; top left Mr Livingstone’s sister Julie who was later murdered by the British Army after being hit by a a plastic bullet and below right how the Irish News reported Mr Llewellyn’s murder.

Their ruling was based on the alleged brutality of RUC (scumbag) officers involved in securing a statement implicating the West Belfast man. Mr Livingstone (62) descibed the decision as a vindication of his fight to clear his name. He now plans to seek compensaton for the 17 years he spent behind bars for the murder. Mr Llewellyn was abducted as he delivered hardboard to repair homes damaged by a bombing in the Clonard area of Belfast’s Falls Road in August 1975. The council cleansing department worker, from Mossvale Street on the Shankill Road, was taken to a house in Lesson Streetw where he was shot eight times by the IRA. His body was wrapped in a sheet and put in the back of a van which was then set alight.

Residents of the lower Falls placed a large sympathy notice in The Irish News condemning the murder of a “man who came to the help of old people and residents”. The only evidence against Mr Livingstone at his trial came from three (discredited) RUC officers who interviewed him at Dundalk Garda Station and claimed he confessed to the murder. It was alleged that he taunted the policemen about the shooting, boasting they could do nothing about it because he had no intention of crossing the border. He disputed their account and denied the killing, with his defence claiming the RUC concocted a lying account. However, he was subsequently convicted at Belfast City Commission in May 1977 and sentenced to life imprisonment.

British Injustice

His case was reopened and referred back to the Court of Appeal by the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC), the body set up to examine potential miscarriages of justice. The challenge centered on alleged police brutality towards another man who said he was beaten into signing a statement which claimed Mr Livingstone admitted the shooting to him. His allegations included : being put againt a a wall and hit across the stomach ; having chest and head hairs pulled out ; and being hooded, spun around and hit across the feet for up to 45 minutes. The CCRC also investigated the quashing on appeal of another man’s convictions for assualting two of the RUC officers who testified at the murder trial. Ruling on the case alongside two other judges, Lord Chief Justice Sir Declan Morgan held that the fresh evidence should be introudeced. He said the claims of police mistreatment was never tested and would have opened a line of inquiry “which might have affected the credibility of the police witnesses”. Sir Declan added : “Because of the non-disclosure the appellant lost the opportunity to pursure that line of argument.”

Evidence had also been raised of potential wrongdoing in testimony from at least some of the ( corroupt) police interveiwers, the judge held. He confirmed : “For the reasons set out we have a significant sence of unease about the correctness of this virdict and accordingly allow the appeal.” Mr Livingstone, who was in the Court of Appeal with his son Cormac and other friends yesterday, told how the outcome has been “a long time coming”. Speaking after the verdict, he said : “I feel totally vindicated. But there’s a lot more people than me, on both sides of the devide, who went through those Diplock Courts. “I spent 17 and a half years in jail for something I didn’t do. I intend to seek compensation.” Mr Liningstone’s 14-year-old sister Julie was murdered during the Troubles after being struck by a plastic bullet fired by the British army on Belfast’s Stewartstown Road duing the Hunger Strike of 1981. A brother Robin, who has written extensively about his sisters death ; is the editor of the West Belfast newspaper the Andersontown News.

With many thanks to : Irish News.

For more on this story please follow the link at the top of the page :

Ex -IRA MAN LOSES BID FOR ‘IMMUNITY’ AGAINST CONVICTION

‘ We consider that any of the grounds of appeal haveAssemblyde out – Lord Chief Justice Declan Morgan.

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A FORMER IRA man’s bid to overturn his conviction for attempted murder has been rejected. Lawyers for Co Tyrone man Gerry McGeough said he had been assured immunity from prosecution by a Sinn Fein representative.

The lawyers argued that criminal proceedings that led to McGeough being jailed for trying to kill part-time soldier Samuel Brush 32 years ago were an abuse of process. Central to his case was an allegation that North Belfast assembly member Gerry Kelly, pictured below, had assured McGeough in 2000 that he would not be charged if he returned to the North from being on the run. McGeough had escaped from hospital after being wonded when his victim – now a DUP councillor – returned fire in the ambush. He cotended that Mr Kelly had given him a binding primise on behalf of the Stormont executive.

Gerry Kelly

Lord Chief Justice Declan Morgan pointed to legal authorites which set out that an abuse of process depended on an unequivocal guarantee of immunity being by those bringing the criminal case. ” We do not consider that the evidence indicates any basis for the conclusion that Mr Kelly was a represntative of verdict and esponsible forhonduct of the investigation or prosecutions, ” the judge said. “We further agree that in any event the statement attributed to Mr Kelly, who did not give evidence, did not contain any representation, never mind one which could be said to be unequivocal for the purpose of this test.” Mr Brush was working as a postman when he was shot and seriously wonded near Aughnacloy, Co Tyrone in June 1981. McGeough (54), from Dungannon, was convicted in 2011 of attempted murder, possession of firearms with intent to commit an indictable offence and IRA membership. He was jailed for 20 years but released earlier  this year under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement. The one-time gunrunner was not in court yesterday to hear judges throw out all grounds of the appeal. Correspondence from the Northern Ireland Office to Mr Kelly in 2003 was introudeced during the case. The letter included McGeough in a list of six people who would face arrest and questioning if they returned to the North of Ireland.

As part of a disclosure process evidence was also called from William Smyth of the Progressive Unionist Party. He claimed to have attended a meeting with former Secretary of State Mo Mowlam during negotiations leading up to the Good Friday Agreement in 1998. It was alleged that she had confirmed that those who had committed offences during the Troubles for which they had not been convicted would not be prosecuted. Mr Smyth also stated that those who came forward to admit their crimes would serve two years in jail while those who refused to accept guilt would apparenty face no punishment. Sir Declan, sitting with Lords Justices Higgins and Girvan, said : “Such an outcome would be absurd. “The learned disclosure judge concluded, in our veiw inevitabilty, that Mr Smyth’s evidence that the issue of on-the-runs was ‘done and dusted’ was difficult to accept.” MrGeough also failed to establish that it was unfair to try him because of the passage of time. Detailing his escape from hospital, subsequent proceedings against him in continental Europe and the US and a period spent in the Republic, Sir Declan held that any delay in the trail was McGeough’s responsibility. “We do not consider that any of the grounds of appeal have been made out and we do not consider the convictions are unsafe,” the judge said. Mr Brush was in court for the virdict and later said he had been under no doubt the appeal would be thrown out. Dismissing McGeough’s claims to have been assured immunity, Mr Brush said : “We ars living in a fairytale land as it but to suggest that was going to take place is even worhorse .” The DUP councillor also hit out the founding being given to bring the challenge. “As far as I can see it’s another scandalous misuse of the legal aid system. It had no chance of success,” he said.

With many thanksis to : The Irish News.

MEN JAILED FOR CARROLL KILLING GET DATE FOR LEGAL CHALLENGE

‘ Last week judges were told police have tried to sabotage appeals being mounted by John Paul Wootton and Brendan McConville.

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AN unprecedented legal bid for independent oversight of PSNI/RUC inquiries surrounding the murder of Constable Stephen Carroll will take place next week.

Lawyers for the two men attempting to overturn their convictions for the killing are seeking an order for the Criminal Cases Review Commission to examine the arrest of a new witness in the case. They are also making a separate application to the Police Ombudsman to look into allegations of misconduct in the operation. Last week judges were told police have tried to sabotage appeals being mounted by John Paul Wootton and Brendan McConville. Defence counsel made thehclaim as their joint challenge to being found guilty of the murder was put back until October 7th amid uncertainty over potential fresh evidence. Constable Carroll was ambushed and shot dead as he responded to a 999 call at Lismore Manor, Craigavon in March 2009.

McConville (41) of Glenholme Avenue in the town, is serving at least a 25-year sentence for the murder. Wootton, (22) of Collindale, Lurgan, received a minimum 14-year term. It was revealed in court that an related to a key prosecution  witness was arrested two weeks ago 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 warned he would be discredited if he testified. They now want the Court of Appeal to direct the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC) to look into this aspect of the case. Judges yesterday listed their application for  hearing next Wednesday. It was also confirmed that transcripts from all but one of the 11 interviews carried out with this new wittness have been handed over to the defence teams. As he updated the court Ciaran Murphy QC, prosecuting, said ongoing police inquires are expected to take another four weeks. Lord Chief Justice Sir Declan Morgan pointed out : “Part of this application is about who should conduct/supervise that investigation.” Mr Murphy replied by suggesting the CCRC may have difficulties in dealing with a continuing police probe.

With many thanks to : Irish News.

POLICE ‘TRIED TO SABOTAGE’ APPEAL IN CONSTABLE MURDER CASE

” Two police officers called at the house of this wwitness on whose fresh evidence we rely…. it appears they forced their way into the house and proceeded to warn him that if he went to court he would be discredited ” – Barry Macdonald QC.

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POLICE have made an apparent attempt to sabotage appeals by two men convicted of murdering Constable Stephen Carroll, a court heard yesterday. A new witness in the case of John Paul Wotton and Brendan McConville was arrested last week and held for two days before being released without charge in a bid to pressure him into withdrawing his evidence, it was claimed.

Senior judges were told officers had forced their way into his home and warned him he would be discredited if he went to court. Yesterday the planned five-day hearing of the appeal by the pair found guilty of the killing was adjourned because of uncertainty over the potential fresh evidence. Defence lawyers said they would lodge a complaint with the police oombudsman’s office. Constable Carroll was ambushed and shot dead as he responded to an emergency call at Lismore Manor in Craigavon in March 2009. McConville (41), of Glenholme Avenue in the town, is serving at least a 25-year sentence for the murder. Wotton (22), of Collingdale, Lurgan, received a minimum 14-year term. Dressed in dark suits and wearing shirts and ties, both men were led handcuffed into a packed Court of Appeal for the planned opening of their cchallenge.

Family, friends and supporters, including Paddy Hill of the Birmingham Six and Gerry Conlon of the Guildford Four (pictured above), gathered in the public gallery a few feet away from the murdered officer’s wife Kate Carroll. They heard prosecution counsel Ciaran Murphy QC seek an adjournment because of the new developments. He said an arrest had been made last week as part of a surveillance operation. “There are a number of lines of inquiry that are not yet complete,” he said. Two lever-arch files of new material have emerged and include the contents of 11 interviews. Mr Murphy indicated that ongoing police inquires could take several weeks. McConville’s barrister Barry Macdonald QC stressed that the prosecution case was based entirely on circumstantial evidence, primarily from a man identified only as witness M who claimed to have seen McConville in the area at the time of the killing. Earlier this month a relative of witness M who did not testify at the trial gave an affidavit branding him a compulsive liar, the court heard. Mr Macdonald said the affidavit stated “that he was known to the family as a Walter Mitty, that made up stories, that he had a fertile imagination and you could not believe anything he said “. According to the relative, witness M could not have taken the route he claimed on the night of the murder because his partner was not welcome in his home.

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Mr Macdonald told the court : “Then last Monday two police officers called at the house of this witness on whose fresh evidence we rely. “On my instructions it appears they forced their way into the house and proceeded to warn him that if he went to court he would be discredited.” The three appeal judges, Lord Chief Justice Declan Morgan and Lords Justices Higgins and Coghlin, were informed that letters of complaint were also to be sent to the Public Prosecution Service and the Law Society amid concerns that covert surveillance might have been used against the witness, his solicitor or both. Mr Macdonald described the application to adjourn the hearing as “suspicious to say the least”. Defence teams would have no faith in police carrying out an investigation into the issues raised because of the apparent conflict of interest, the barrister said. It was alleged that officers had been able to “arrest this witness and to subject him to pressure – we say improper pressure – with a view to securing the withdrawal of his evedence and therefore undermining the appeal”. Mr Macdonald called for a more independent oversight process. “I’m simply registering strong objection to the conduct that appears to have taken place here and flagging up our deep concerns at the prospect that police should be given more time to sabotage this appeal and put their case togeather,” he said. Following discussions Sir Declan confirmed that the hearing would be postponed until October.

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Solicitors seek ‘independent’ investigators

SOLICITORS acting for Brendan McConville will ask a court to appoint “independent” investigators after the PSNI/RUC was accused of trying to “sabotage” his appeal. Kevin Winters last night said he would ask the Court of Appeal to allow the Criminal Cases Review Commission to oversee the PSNI/RUC investigation into a new witness in the case just days after that witness signed an affidavit for the defence team. This arrest was made after a surveillance operation that is understood to have focused on several people. It is beleived to be the first time a court in the North of Ireland will be asked to remove control of an investigation from the PSNI/RUC and hand it to the commission. Set up in 1997 the commission reviews possible miscarriages of justice.

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Defence solicitors say it can oversee police investigations in certain circumstances. Mr Winters emphasised the need for an independant body to look at the matter. The police ombudsman’s office has also asked to probe the circumstances of the witness’s arrest. “We have concerns and they were highlighted in court about the manner in which the police have approached this and have written to the police ombudsman and in the strongest terms voiced our grave concerns,” Mr Winters said. The lawyer said he had also written to the Law Society and had asked the Public Prosecution Service to confirm it had offered direction or advice to the PSNI/RUC in relation to the arrest of witness M’s relative. A PSNI/RUC spokesman said : “Police inquiries into this matter are continuing and as such it would be inappropriate to comment any further.”

With many thanks to : Connia Young, Irish News.