Wednesday, June 26, 2013

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The Accused

Yesterday, 36 years after his original conviction, Pat Livingstone was acquitted of killing Samuel Llewellyn in West Belfast in 1975. Mr Llewellyn, a resident of the Shankill Road, was shot dead by the IRA after being kidnapped while carrying out emergency repairs to homes in the area in the wake of a loyalist bomb attack. It became known as the "Good Samaritan killing".

Looking at a photograph of ‘Big Liv’ yesterday after his acquittal was soothing, seemingly far removed from the days when it was customary for a West Belfast man to merely turn up in a suit and as a result be labelled ‘the accused.’

News Letter photo of Pat Livingstone and his son outside the court where his appeal was upheld.
Now the worm has turned and Liv stands vindicated, able to point the finger at those who conspired to unjustly secure a worthless conviction. The accused in the case of Samuel Llewellyn are the British judiciary and the RUC.

It was clear to everybody remotely interested from the outset that the charge against Pat Livingstone was tenuous to say the least. Convicted on a concocted verbal statement he was fallaciously said to have made outside the jurisdiction of the RUC, it was easy after that for the legal process that disposed of unwanted members of the public to grind into action. Equipped with neither brake nor reverse gear, the conveyor belt trundled on relentlessly until justice had been pulverised. Prejudice not evidence was sufficient to call it in a Diplock Court.

Other than immediate family few cared about an unsafe conviction. Immediately after the Llewellyn killing Pat Livingstone had been the target of a smear campaign by members of the Provisional Movement making it clear to all and sundry that it was hanging him out to dry. Livingstone was a former internee so it was all too easy to presume his culpability rather than prove it. Conferring on him the status of an unwanted member of the public made it all the easier to remove him from public view. Journalists were whispered to from Provisional offices and when the judge sentenced him to serve the rest of his natural life in prison, (illegally as well), there was a collective shrug of indifference. ‘Throw away the key’ was the cry from the British and unionist establishment, made sufficiently loud to drown out the sound of other concerns.

In prison Liv endured the ardours of the blanket protest and because of the sentence he received was unable to attend the funeral of his 14 year old sister Julie who was brutally killed by British state forces the same evening Frank Hughes died on hunger strike.

I never met him during the blanket. We were held throughout in separate blocks. Once it was over, we became close prison friends. Not of the temperament to be academically inclined – that type of discipline had little appeal to him – he was extremely intelligent. Armed with an encyclopaedic knowledge he sustained himself throughout his lengthy spell of imprisonment by reading every type of literature, an activity he combined with following the progress of Glasgow Celtic whom he adored. He was wickedly sarcastic and the two of us shared a wry perspective on jail matters, rarely showing the slightest  inclination to take at face value anything from officialdom, whether Provisional or penal.

Pat Livingstone and myself outside my cell in the H Blocks circa 1991

Once coming back from the visits in 1982 in a prison van he was being dropped off at his block before me. As he was about to get out he turned around and backed out, gesturing to Willie McGrath of Kincora infamy while commenting to me ‘don’t get out with your arse facing him.’  Whether the prisoners or the screws guarding us laughed most is still something I have yet to figure out. But that was Liv, quick and never one to miss an opportunity to make a witty remark.

On rare occasions in our lives we have written to each other, usually when the chips were down for one or the other. That affinity would never have stopped him ripping the back out of me. Typical Liv, just his way, as natural and as frequent as Irish rain.

There was no justification for the killing of Samuel Llewellyn. A non combatant, he happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. What his family thought they knew about his death has now been shattered by the combined efforts of the RUC and British judiciary in securing a verdict for which there was no justification. Its role often overlooked, the northern judiciary was complicit in crimes against society and it is unfortunate that no proper investigation has ever been conducted into its role. The judiciary was as cavalier about law and rights as Anglo Irish bankers were about the economy. And now the relentless determination of a former blanket man has, in the court of public opinion, moved judges from the bench to the dock.

39 comments :

larry hughes said...

That's a moving article. What a position to have been in and the wee girl murdered too. Never knew any of it. Makes me glad I used to let him beat me at snooker, the odd time.

Dixie said...

Great piece Mackers. Reading it made me feel like someone who walked round the same corner he had for over 30 years straight into a lamp post he'd never before took notice of.

I knew Livvy but was never close to him, he was another one of the many characters that we met along the way. However I never knew that the Provos had 'disowned' him.

Reading this left me wondering why they did so given what others had been charged with over the years yet were never disowned by the PIRA hierarchy...

In fact surely that hierarchy knew back then of Livvy's innocence; surely they knew who actually did it, yet because of political expedience they chose to throw the man to the dogs?

If this was the case then they were no better than the British judicial system and the RUC.

michaelhenry said...

AM-

That's some Afro that you were sporting in 91-the 70s were long gone by the time of that photo-

There is a piece about that 'Good Samaritan' killing in the Danny Morrison book-All the dead voices-

marty said...

Didnt Bangers have a dark role in this,if memory serves me well, anyway as you say Anthony this man,s acquittal now leaves what passes for the judicial system here with even more egg on its face if that is possible,the conveyor belt of brutality that lead from Castlereagh and other torture centers through the Diplock courts to the Crum or Maze, may finally be starting to get into reverse,many innocent people traveled this journey and though they will never get their lost lives back their reward will be their cleared names ,the embarrassment,the questions asked and the compensation their acquittal will cause the judicary and those who claimed to work for it here, I hope Pat cleans them out..

Organized Rage said...

At least your man's day has come, good luck to him, good point about the northern judiciary being complicit in crimes, without their help the conveyer belt system of 'justice' could never have occurred.

No surprise there though, the English judiciary has always stunk to high hell, they have done some monstrous things in there time.

AM said...

Dixie,

it was all smoke and mirrors. They could never fully disown him because too many were not prepared to buy into it. They were at their usual tricks. I was in Magilligan at the time and a few Lower Falls men were in the cage with me. They were onto the whispering campaign right away and were not amused about it. That was the first time I heard of Pat.

For all the whispering and briefing of journalists against him, the first time I sat eyes on him was in Crumlin Road Jail in January 1977. He walked into the canteen for mass during a lock up and the cheer that went up for him was pretty rambunctious. It certainly didn't reflect the sentiment being vented by the whisper weasels.

Michaelhenry,

I have read some of Morrison's fiction but as a rule I tend to read something else.

Larry,

the lousy bastards wilfully killed the child. I was very thick with Martin, Pat's younger brother. I was in the next cell to him for over two years on the blanket. Spent my entire days talking with him and only got to see him on Sundays.

BKeane said...

What a world we live in, the name Travers is probably known by everyone around the country, but injustices against the common man are only todays news. People wondering why judges were targeted during the campaign should now understand that they deserved death, cruel death, for their crimes were so cynical. When those who make the law, break the law, there is no law. If that judge is still alive today, he won't even be questioned on the case. And, because of the provisional defeat, there will be plenty more miscarriages to come.

AM said...

BKeane,

judges have a lot to answer for although Tom Travers hardly falls into that category, being a magistrate for the most part dealing with run of the mill cases and not a Diplock judge. As for Ann Travers, she can hardly be condemned for kicking up a fuss about her sister.

itsjustmacker said...

I don't know the reasons for the smear campaign Pat , But , I'm Pleased he has been vindicated and those who started the smear against him should die with shame.

Why Kill Samuel Llewellyn , who was delivering materials to help the people of the lower Falls.

No amount of Money will give Pat those lost years , but it's better in his pocket that the British Governments.

eddie said...

Best news I heard in a while, delighted for him, Archie and all connected to them. Livvy was tough but a bit of a softy too.

Buy the case is also interesting for the fact that, neither then or now, did Livvy prove that he was brutalised into making an incriminating statement, verbal or otherwise. Rather, a case was made that detectives involved in Livvy's case had other judgements of sorts made against them and that called into question their integrity in general and their integrity as they may have related to Livvy’s case.

This is similar to the Raymond McCartney and Eamonn McDermott Appeal. Raymond and Eamonn did not prove that they were brutalised into making incriminating statements. No, Raymond and Eamonn proved that detectives who beat them, these detectives had themselves being convicted of beating people in police stations; and that his was known but not disclosed to Raymond and Eamonn and at the time of their first Appeal in the late 70's early 80's.

Now I am completely mystified as to why the names of these detectives are not made known by Raymond and Eamonn (and/or their legal team's) so that other prisoners who were beaten into making statements by these detectives could bring about Appeals of their own particular cases.

Alec said...

Pat lost the best years of his life, and suffered much hardship, because of a concocted verbal admission accepted by a single judge free from the proper checks and balances of a jury based justice system.

BKeane said...

AM
If it sounded like I was condemning Ann Travers, I apologise, I was just using her as an example. 2 miscarriages of justice but the republican one is the case the media concentrate on. The British rags won't be outraged about some Paddy locked up for years an innocent man.

Fionnuala Perry said...

Mackers
You don't say why he was singled out as the victim of a smear campaign or who actually would benefit from such a campaign?

AM said...

Nuala,

we covered this before and have different views as to the context. From my perspective it was an IRA action and from yours it wasn't.

He was smeared from the Press office as part of a distancing exercise. The people who smeared hoped to put clear blue water between them and the action.

AM said...

Eddie,

Liv was brutalised badly when arrested in Newry in 1976. But the self incriminating statement he was alleged to have made was said to have been made in Dundalk Garda station to RUC detectives. He didn't make any statement so the issue of an extracted statement under duress did not arise. Interesting points about Doc/Raymond.

Fionnuala Perry said...

Mackers
I know we covered it before but according to the IRA it was not an IRA action .
Who could blame them from distancing themselves it was absolutely abhorrent.
But that's not what I asked. Why would they smear this particular individual. Who gained by it?

AM said...

Nuala,

the IRA denying responsibility for an operation it carried out does not mean it was not responsible. It denied Joe O'Connor and Joanne Mathers for example. Examples are legion.

If memory serves me right, the same year as this incident it denied the Bayardo Bar attack. That is the incident which led to Bik and two others being convicted. Although it had claimed an earlier attack on the same bar which resulted in no deaths.

I think the IRA can very much be blamed for distancing themselves from any attack that was absolutely abhorrent if it was responsible for it. It has distanced itself from the Whitecross Massacre.

By smearing a particular individual it was possible to foster a view in some circles that it was the work of a maverick individual and not the corporate body. The objective would be to sew doubt in the minds of people about who was responsible for something you describe as 'absolutely abhorrent.' If they can make somebody else take the hit they gain.

But the smear campaign was not a matter of whispering to the media. Internally there was a smear campaign as well. Extensive briefing against the individual occured.

There may be a range of reasons as to why that happened. It may well be that in some cases the people briefing were not being told the full story.

But what we can be certain of is this. There was a smear campaign and its purpose was to hang someone out to dry.

Fionnuala Perry said...

Mackers
This seriously raises more questions than it answers. If this happened if the IRA via it's press office caused a witch hunt and the smearing of an innocent man it is appalling beyond belief.
I just don't understand why on this particular incident they would have felt the need to do this?
Until I read it on TPQ last year I had never ever heard that smear theory. Maybe the spires of Clonard keep out a lot more than our sky TV reception.

AM said...

Nuala,

I have made no reference to innocence or guilt on the part of the individual. I have restricted myself to commenting on how the verdict was reached and the fact that a man was hung out to dry for what was an IRA operation. I know you don't believe it was an IRA operation and that leads you to reach different conclusions.

I suppose there are echoes of the distancing aspect in the Bobby Tohill kidnap case. Everything was said to disown the people responsible in public.

itsjustmacker said...

Anthony:

"But what we can be certain of is this. There was a smear campaign and its purpose was to hang someone out to dry."

It wouldn't be the first time the finger was pointed at someone else to save someone of a higher rank, Maybe that has happened in Pats case. Just a thought and not an accusation, but , I can't seem to put my finger on any other reason.

AM said...

Itsjustmacker,

it was more simple than that. What they call plausible deniability - make sure the individual takes the hit so that the institution avoids taking it.

These people have been smearing since they managed to get control of an office or a department.

Recently, we saw on Prime Time how Percy Pompous smeared Dolours and Brendan - calling them liars. Him accusing somebody of lying!!

A recent example is Richard O'Rawe. They tried to smear him and he destroyed a reputation or two in the ensuing battle.

The Tohill case is interesting - here were IRA people engaged in IRA activity and being smeared as bar room brawlers. They were even told to give themsleves up after they jumped bail.

There is nothing new under the sun about smearing. A dirty man in a dirty office telling dirty lies. It is an image so easy conjured up.

itsjustmacker said...

Real IRA warns sleeper cells have plans to attack major cities in England


AM said...

it sounds like the naked man boasting about his Saville Row suit

AM said...

BKeane,

it was not that you condemned her, you focussed on the way the media ran with her case. It was a point I was making about her stance.

What was most striking about your comment was the call for a cruel death. It had a touch of the barbaric to it. I imagine in war that where we have to we should do what is necessary and no more.

Even at that, Tom Travers did not get a cruel death but was compelled to endure a cruel life because of the loss that was inflicted on him. I don't believe there was any justification for what happened to him.

Fionnuala Perry said...

Mackers,
I think recent revelations about one of the accused gives a better insight into how it became an atrocity.
I would say the brutality was more to discredit .

AM said...

Nuala,

I think you have lost me here

Fionnuala Perry said...

There was speciation that one of those involved was an informer. Was the brutality involved N attempt to discredit the IRA?

AM said...

Nuala,

in what case? There are now three being discussed here.

larry hughes said...

Mackers.

'Even at that, Tom Travers did not get a cruel death but was compelled to endure a cruel life because of the loss that was inflicted on him. I don't believe there was any justification for what happened to him'.

Had it been by design it could almost be labelled a loyalist M.O. ie. leave the real 'target' in grief with a family member dead.

eddie said...

Some could properly argue that Magistrates like Tom Travers were a small but essential cog in the Castlereagh/Diplock conveyor belt justice system. Magistrates were keen to remand people in custody or commit them to Trial on the flimsiest of evidence and sometimes were happy to do so even when it was obvious that the people appearing before them had suffered abuse.

AM said...



Eddie,

some could properly argue that the postman who delivers mail to the courts is a small cog without whom the system would not function. The line of demarcation is never fixed and is always subject to change.

A vital part of the system of British administration in the North today is the SF functionaries who help to administer it. Should they not be targets and magistrates should be?

I don't think either of them should be targets.

Then we have the added problem of who defines targets - categories of targets were devised by those like the deputy first minister who would today given the right circumstances define republicans as legitimate targets: he has said in the past that the penalty for treachery is death and he does describe some types of republican as traitors. In fact it can be said he has legitimately targeted them for arrest and imprisonment.

Why should people, magistrates or otherwise, be considered targets on the basis of what someone so shallow asserts?

eddie said...

Just in case there is any doubt I state here categorically that I myself wont be targeting anyone and I dont think anyone should be targeted.

That said I thought I might be able to reason why some people were targeted and to the point were them same people were likely to know that were targets and why they were targeted. I think those people for whatever reason, money, political convictions, accepted the risks.

in a recent article you took Gerry Adams to task regards his 'murder' comments on a RTE show. From memory and forgive me if Im wrong, I think you asked in the article or in subsequent comments if a hunger striker who carried out certain actions before his imprisonment could be considered a murderer. To me your querying of targets in the present and who had the right to decide who and why someone was a target is more or less what Gerry Adams was saying on the tv show only put a different way

AM said...

Eddie,


I don't think your comment allowed people to infer that you argued for targeting anybody.

Because someone might know they are targeted does not mean they deserve being targeted nor does it confer legitimacy on the targeting.

I think there is a serious difference between what I have said and what Adams has argued. (or at least I believe there is). He has sought to call all killings murder which in my view is patently not true. He does this to enhance his political career but is left to face the question of why he directed a murder campaign.

If people were targeted by him as a political career move then certainly it would be murder. He would need to explain that himself.

If people were targeted as part of a political conflict that resulted from the range of injustices that characterised the northern conflict then it is not murder even if we later come to conclude that it was the wrong approach.

The whole purpose of disputing the term murder is to refute the label criminality, not because there is something nice or pleasant about political assassination. There are many occasions on which it may indeed be worse than murder.







eddie said...

Mackers
to countenence now that the wrong approach was applied (and where thousands died as a result) is to infer that there was a degree of recklessness applied (to say the least) - I predict that SF will adopt the 'recklessness' theory in the future as Widgery tried to do in the aftermath of Bloody Sunday. Of course we both know BLoody Sunday was murder

AM said...

Eddie,

at levels of the campaign there had to be recklessness. If people can abandon with such ease the ideological, ethical and strategic framework within which they they operated and by extension killed, then recklessness might just be, as you seem to allow for, the best thing that can be said about them.

Even where wars are wrong those that fight them are not all murderers. The ideological factors that come into play are for the most part unconscious and don't always give rise to the type of deliberation we would associate with murder. Many German soldiers during World War 2 would not be classified as murderers while others would be. The SS was declared a criminal organisation after the war but the Whermacht was not. The 'murder' label would be determined by the type of activity they engaged in during the war and there is a catgory 'war criminal' to deal with that.

Bloody Sunday was a war crime for sure as was Whitecross. No one side monopolised that.

eddie said...

Mackers
i think you would agree that the whole thrust of what passes for politics in this place at the minute is to apportion blame for the conflict. I am of the opinion your use of the word wrong and as in wrong approach could be open to misintepretation and would assist those who would like to degenerate the 16, 17, and 18 year olds from the Bogside, Falls and Armagh who prosecuted the war to the best of their ability, against the odds and with limited resources and would now be cast as the culprits

AM said...

Eddie,

if it was the whole thrust of politics things would not be so poor from a republican perspective. It is certainly an element in it.


People are always free to interpret something as they wish and we can't control that.I don't feel we should look over our shoulder when we write just to check for who might interpet or misinterpret it.

Young soldiers in any army might try their best but it doesn't follow that the war they waged was the right one or that much of it wasn't wrong. If we hold to your view too rigidly we will shy away from free inquiry and serious reflection on where we might have went wrong.

There are just some nettles that have to be grasped. We can be critical without being nasty or disparaging.

I think we need to be able to reach honest judgements in order to protect the people you refer to from being labelled culprits.

Niall said...

“The judiciary was as cavalier about law and rights as Anglo Irish bankers were about the economy.”
And still are with recent court cases of PSNI/RUC member Carroll and Masserene….the evidence supplied to convict is tenuous to say the least. The judiciary, inclusive of McGrory and his cronies, including the PSNI Officers who carried out the investigations, should all be themselves investigated in to not how, but why these cases went ahead. Those involved should actually be sacked and charged with perverting the course of justice or more Livvys will appear…….
He’s fairly squeezed in to that suit although, knowing Livy he would ably deny that he has put on an inch of weight since he was 17 and if you dare to further your opinion....don't!
The most egotistical, lying sincere bastard, unbelievable memory recall, intelligent, extremely witty even when his attention was focused on you and only later when you’d stopped thinking of killing him would you realise just how witty he was, the only true guerrilla fighter the IRA ever had…his opinion that one, fashion conscious, sociopath (some may say psychopath) I ever had the greatest pleasure in meeting and will never forget…..actually he won’t let me forget him….and that’s Liv…..and will never forget…..actually he won’t let me forget him….and that’s Liv…..I wouldn't be surprised if he has already written his own graveside oration !!!!!

AM said...

Niall,

laughed at that. He was something else for sure. But you are wrong about his belly. Not a pick on the man!