Day Three of Appeal – ‘Justice for the Craigavon Two’
The prosecution began to set out how they believed the convictions to be safe and were quickly stopped and scrutinised by the three appeal court judges, the prosecution were asked about the breaking of the window that lured police to the scene, it was quickly ascertained astonishingly that their were no crime scene photos or papers, which asks was the breaking of the window even investigated?.
Witness defended: Prosecution counsel Ciaran Murphy QC defended an account given by a key prosecution witness at the trial.
Defence lawyers attacked his credibility, branding him a compulsive liar and a Walter Mitty-type character whose allegations of what he saw on the night of the shooting were “farcical”.
The man, known only as Witness M, has since left Northern Ireland to live under a protection programme.
But Mr Murphy argued that he had reliably recalled seeing McConville near the scene, describing him as someone he knew by nickname and being able to remember exchanging words.
Witness M claimed he was later approached by another man and warned to “keep your mouth shut”.
The defence pointed out how he only phoned police to make his claims 11 months later, making the call after drinking into the early hours of the morning.
However, Mr Murphy said: “He was aware in his own mind of the consequences. The fact he was drinking at the time has little bearing other than to explain how he may personally have felt and to get up the courage to do what he did because he was nervous and said he had seen someone watching his house on different occasions.”
Connection: The judges asked the prosecution about how Justice Girvan came to make decisions regarding drawing negative inference and bad character when it was put to the prosecution that he had misdirected himself by drawing inference and bad character before viewing the evidence rather than drawing inference and bad character from the evidence, the prosecution did not respond.
Prosecutors contended that John Paul’s car was near the scene of the attack and driven off within minutes of the killing. However, his legal team insist absolutely no evidence exists to link him to any role in the shooting and the evidence regarding the car comes from the tracking device which was tampered with.
Residue found on a coat with a slight forensic link to McConville was later recovered from the vehicle. On day three of the two men’s joint appeal judges examined whether it could have come from a separate incident. Some of the residue could have come from another source, the Court of Appeal heard.
Questioned on whether it could be proven that the coat was at the firing point on the night of the killing, prosecution counsel Ciaran Murphy QC said he could prove a connection with the relevant particles.
Lord Chief Justice Sir Declan Morgan then asked: “Are you proving beyond reasonable doubt that the weapon was transported in Mr Wootton’s car?”
The barrister replied: “No.”
Sir Declan continued: “Are you proving beyond reasonable doubt that Mr McConville was transported in Mr Wootton’s car.”
Again the response was: “No.”
Mr Murphy contended that scientific evidence connected the murder weapon – an AK47 rifle which was later recovered – to the jacket.
After it was pointed out to him that some of the discharge could have come from a different incident, he stressed the rarity of the particles.
During exchanges Sir Declan said: “The Crown accept there’s at least a possibility there was some other source which was responsible for some of the gunshot residue.
“How then do you get from knowing there’s another source as well as the gun that was recovered to concluding that other source was not responsible for the entirety of the gunshot residue?”.
Going on the above exchange it is now obvious how unsustainable this conviction remains, there is no physical evidence and the the circumstantial evidence produced is either discredited or highly contradictory. Justice Girvan continuously misdirecting himself creating fact from inference where no inference can be drawn.
Raymond McCartney Deputy Chairperson of the Justice Committee & Sinn Fein spokesperson on Justice attended the appeal today as an independent observer
Campaigners now believe it is a case of when not if this conviction will be quashed. Gerry Conlon said this could be the clincher, the point of no return for the Crown case.
From: McConville Wootton