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Thursday, January 18, 2018

Hamill case against alleged RUC conspirator gets go ahead

Posted by Jim on December 9, 2017

A decision to halt the prosecution of a former RUC man and two other on
charges linked to the loyalist mob killing of Catholic man Robert Hamill
is to be quashed, High Court judges has ruled.

They ordered a new hearing to determine if the trio should face trial
for an alleged attempt to obstruct the course of justice.

The verdict came in a legal bid by the murder victim’s mother, Jessica
Hamill, to have charges reinstated.

Her 25-year-old son was attacked in Portadown, County Armagh in 1997. He
never regained consciousness and died in hospital.

Members of the PSNI (then RUC) in the area at the time watched while the
murderous assault on Mr Hamill took place, but did not intervene.

As evidence of collusion mounted, RUC man Robert Atkinson and his wife
were charged with conspiracy to pervert the course of justice by tipping
off loyalists involved in the murder.

In September 2014 a judge at Craigavon Magistrates’ Court refused to
return the trio for trial, ruling that a key prosecution witness was
“unreliable” and “unconvincing”.

It had been alleged that a phone call was made from Atkinson’s house to
the home of a suspect in the killing, with advice given to destroy his
clothing.

Mr Atkinson denied making the call and claimed his phone was used by
another man. That man’s ex-wife, Andrea Jones, later gave evidence to
contradict this. She said she had been asked by her former partner to
make a false statement about the incident.

Jones subsequently pleaded guilty to carrying out an act tending to
pervert the course of justice.

But the prosecution against the Atkinsons and a third suspect was
stopped for a second time on the basis of insufficient evidence against
them. That decision was based solely on a district judge’s assessment of
the credibility of Jones’ evidence.

Mrs Hamill’s legal team challenged his determination, arguing that it
was irrational.

They claimed the District Judge failed to consider all of the evidence
against the defendants and neglected to take into account issues
supporting Jones’ claims of a conspiracy involving the three defendants.

The conviction of Jones should have been treated as corroborating
evidence, it was contended.

Ruling on the challenge, Justice Stephens held that there was not
insufficient evidence, and quashed the 2014 decision.

McCANN CASE REACHES COURT

Meanwhile, two former British soldiers charged with murdering an
Official IRA man in Belfast 45 years ago are mounting a legal bid to
have the case thrown out before it reaches trial.

The former paratroopers are also seeking anonymity.

The defendants, known only as Soldier A and Soldier C, are facing
prosecution for the cold-blooded killing in April 1972 of of Joe McCann.
Neither were present as proceedings got underway at Belfast Magistrates’
Court.

In a statement Joe McCann’s widow, Anne, said: “There are three
incontrovertible facts about this incident; Joe was unarmed, he as
running away, and he was shot in the back.”

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