Thursday, April 24, 2014

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Brothels and Courtrooms

Easter Sunday is a traditional republican day for remembering the dead. But in the political graveyard that is the North of Ireland the living often enough find they too are entombed as well as the dead. On Sunday past my thoughts drifted to one of them, Seamus Scotchy Kearney at present in Maghaberry Prison and probably banged up in his cell throughout the day given the authorities' disapproval of the wearing of Easter Lilies. Royalty might well find itself invited in 2016 to events commemorating the 1916 Rising, but off camera the familiar snarl of officialdom will hardly change.

Since first meeting him in December 1984 when he arrived in H3, having been sentenced to twenty years, we have been friends. When his trial began at the end of last year I made the journey to Belfast for the opening day. That evening we both hit Belfast city centre on the drink and then on for something to eat. Most of our previous drinking sessions had been in various bars around South Derry so it was good to have him on it in Belfast. The craic was good as it always is with Scotchy but he was under no illusions about the jaundiced hue of the judiciary and the political motivation behind his arrest. He told me that while others were hopeful of an acquittal he did not share their optimism. He was right.

The next time I saw him was in the visiting room of Maghaberry Prison to where myself and Alec McCrory accompanied his wife one Saturday afternoon a week or so short of Christmas. The following day Alec too would begin the first steps of a journey that would take him to the wrong side of a visiting cubicle in Maghaberry. Roughly around the same time as I was downing pints in Belfast city centre while watching Liverpool put 5 past Spurs Alec’s home was being raided by the cover up cops: part of a repressive security apparatus eager to politically cover for its own past politically violent behaviour while pursuing everybody else for the political violence they disapprove of. 

What nudged Seamus Kearney to the centre of my thoughts was that I had just finished reading the appeal court judgement in his case. It was an exercise in Jesuitical legalese and judicial sophistry. A procrustean bed of evidence which would be stretched and pulled into place so that Seamus Kearney would be made to fit. Perhaps it is naive to expect anything else from a forum recently described as a British court by Danny Morrison. 

Seamus Kearney is one of those prisoners not fortunate enough to have been covered by the immunity-from-prosecution side deal concocted between Sinn Fein and the British government. His refusal to do obesience to the somersault squad, opting instead to quietly carry on with his family life, designated him suitable for abandomment.

In a society quick to proclaim its eagerness to move away from the past the PSNI shows no sign of easing up in its drive to keep bringing us back there. The force claims it is only following evidence but it never seems to follow any that leads back to the state. Not one member of the British security services has yet appeared in court despite the heavy volume of evidence that could easily secure convictions.  

Even in terms of solving republican killings the PSNI is politically selective as to who appears in court. It decided not to prosecute Sinn Fein member John Downey for politically motivated killings in the North despite having considerably more evidence against him than it had against Seamus Kearney. In fact the charge of murder against Seamus Kearney was so flimsy that it was dropped shortly after he was first charged only for the British authorities to come back to chance their arm through beefing up a tenuous case with ‘bad character’ evidence. The tenacity with which Seamus Kearney was pursued in contrast with the seemingly cavalier waiver given to Downey can only be explained by another concept supposedly consigned to the past – political policing.

The decision not to prosecute John Downey was the right one if post-conflict really means post rather than continuing the conflict by insidious means. But that had nothing to do with it. The decision not to prosecute Downey was political just as the decision to prosecute in the case of Kearney was political. Does the PSNI seriously expect us to believe that it could not prosecute Freddie Scappaticci, for example, in respect of conflict related killings supposedly carried out by republicans? The evidence emerging from that will certainly lead to where the PSNI does not want to go, so it is not pursued.

In the court buildings as Seamus Kearney was being led away a legal figure commented that if you want justice go to a brothel; if you want screwed come to the courts. If things are to improve the current British Secretary of State might consider upping her career station and become Madam Villiers.

26 comments:

frankie said...

“I am firmly convinced the defendant was either the gunman , the driver of the Ford Escort RS2000 or was an occupant of the car being present to provide support for the planned killing. In any event, he is guilty of the murder of John Proctor and the possession of the AR15 rifle and ammunition that killed him.”

And maybe Seamus Kearney wasn't there, maybe the ciggie butt was planted after..There was no forensic connection between Seamus Kearney and the gun..? How can a Judge base a decision on 'if's, but's & maybe's...? The mind boggles...

Maybe if my aunt had balls, she'd been my uncle...

When you read things like that, it's easy to understand why some republicans want to continue with PFR.. Sometimes it seems that not a lot has changed...Maybe it wouldn't be a bad idea if former republican & loyalist prisioners opposed to the GFA form some kind of lobby group and expose the double standards of the (as Larry calls it) piss process...

Niall said...

Good article but sadly we are all too aware of such blatant miscarriages of British justice. Must write to good auld Seamus Mallon, the defender of innocents, and ask him to intervene....

Alan Murray said...

Well said.

Facebooked.

gerard hodgins said...

scotchy was stitched up to suit the political expediency of the day. despite piss-process politics, if you are not an adamsite you are fair game for the british judicial system and revenge.

while the true patriots rot in Her Majesty's british prisons on irish soil, the banquetman and his entourage will remain as they have always been: obedient and protected subjects of her britanic majesty reaping the rewards of their treachery.

scotchy Kearney: rebel through and through!

tiarna said...

Frankie

"How can a Judge base a decision on 'if's, but's & maybe's...? The mind boggles..."

If you read the full judgment the judge explains himself, he explains that the whole case was totally circumstantial, he goes on to explain that he would understand if the defendant said that he could not recall being there but he could have been there for any number of reasons not connected with the killing of the victim --instead the defendant choose to refuse to give any account and so he tipped the balance against himself by 1) not offering an account if even his memory was vague left the circumstantial evidence stand intact, and 2) his failure to testify created an adverse inference.

The defendant's lawyers seem to have gone on a far fetched attack that police planted DNA evidence etc --that didn't help him because the Judge reasonably says, why would the police plant DNA evidence to stitch him up when they had no idea of DNA back in 1981? fair point.

marty said...

"An island of equals" my fucking arse. we dont need sex the brits and their cronies fuck us every day...

frankie said...

why would the police plant DNA evidence to stitch him up when they had no idea of DNA back in 1981? fair point.

The Judge said this...
Judge McFarland said the crime scene officers appeared to have worked independently from the mapper and the photographer. As a result there was no specific photographic evidence of the cigarette butts

Means the cigarette ends could have be planted at anytime...And DNA profiling was only 3yrs down the line from being used in courts (tells me forensic scientists had a good idea in 1981 that the break through wasn't far away)

Here are two examples tiarna from opposite ends of the troubles where crown-state forces planted evidence to cover their version of events...

Army 'planted nail bombs on victim'

Army officials agreed nail bombs were planted on a teenager killed in Bloody Sunday, a journalist has told the inquiry. Former BBC producer David Mills said he had been given the impression that the devices were placed in the clothing of 17-year-old Gerald Donaghy. He also said soldiers were ready to lie about the use of live gunfire to protect themselves.

Above Suspicion

Martin Brogan Well, in my own case - certainly not in Mark’s case, because Mark is apolitical - he has no political point of view - and they were even willing to sacrifice a man that has no political view, to get me … And the Police and all have the go-ahead to do this, to plant evidence and to contaminate coats and whatever to get these men off the streets. That's exactly what it's about: to get all opposition, all Republican opposition to the Good Friday Agreement silenced, but it’s not going to happen like you know. Because there are people there that will not be silenced.

Defense Solicitor Paddy MacDermott "What happened in this case is that the security forces tried to pervert the course of justice and I am calling for a full judicial inquiry."

If a Judge can base his suspicions on 'if's, buts & maybe's', then maybe when Sean Kearney was questioned in the early 80's about PIRA activity during one of the interview sessions a 'good cop' offers Sean a smoke. Then the cigarette end is put into a bag because some RUC officer with cunning, foresight or other thought maybe it can be used as evidence at a later date to frame him for something he didn't do. And all we (RUC) have to do is lie in court and say the " cigggie butt was found at the scene to be used against him at a later date"..

It's an 'if, but a maybe', same as the Judge said in the summing up in his 'if, buts & maybe's...There was no concrete evidence linking Sean to the scene. And if the case had of been heard in front of a 10-12 person jury, the maths in my head tell me Sean Kearney would be walking the streets of Derry, Belfast or other today...

(If you open a browser and put 'police planted evidence' you'll find it happens across the world..)

sean smith said...

As you said the brits are making the evidence fit and also guessing republicans wont give evidence.if it was the case that he could have said he may have been there but cant recall I believe he should have said it.It looks like the judge used this to convict him.

tiarna said...

Frankie

There is no question that cops all around the world have been known to stitch the wrong people up but in this case for what you suggest:
"maybe when Sean Kearney was questioned in the early 80's about PIRA activity during one of the interview sessions a 'good cop' offers Sean a smoke."

To believe that is to believe that the same cop was a script writer for Star Trek because any cop at the time would have no idea that the future would bring such a thing as DNA evidence. You're working on the farfetched and incredulous.

larry hughes said...

Benefit of the doubt ... anyone?

Compared to what has come out about Raymond McCartney recently this is just further disgrace piled on top of all that has already gone before. Some people having convictions quashed, others being framed for stuff 30 years out of date. SF rodents stand shamelessly for election.

Obviously killings orchestrated by Scap and RUC are 'legal'. He can live free and safe coz those guys in SF understand each-other. 'Birds of a feather'.

Instead of 32 county unity in 2016 as lauded by SF, we are getting UK unity with the Royals in Dublin.

HOW ARE THOSE GANGSTERS KEEPING THE SF NAME???

Tain Bo said...

Tiarna,

Are you saying they had no idea about DNA or had no idea it could be used as indisputable evidence?
Agreed its use as evidence was in the late 80s but that is not a kick in the arse away from 81 a small leap to the “eureka” moment in 84.

Not as sophisticated as it is today, granted a judge may or may not have been aware of its potential but I would believe forensic technicians would have been and would have been schooling themselves on its use.

I am just unconvinced that a judge would be so ignorant on the subject I would assume he would have heard rumour at least that DNA would eventually be presented as evidence before him and judiciary.

tiarna said...

TB

What I am saying is, at best they would only have concept that scientists were working on DNA as means of identification --thus my reference to Star Trek. DNA as a form of genetic fingerprinting was developed in 1984 but it would take years further before it would be considered as admissible evidence for use in court proceedings.

Cops are not that sophisticated or complex and if the cops in 1981 were that intelligent and had vision then 80plus% of convictions would not have been so dependent upon controversial confession evidence alone.

I think the Judge in the current case makes for more reasoned and rational sense --if the cops were going to try to frame someone they would be working on an immediate result rather than some vague notion of a form of evidence that might be discovered or not in the future.

Tain Bo said...

Tiarna,

I should have been clearer I was referring to the erudite members of the science community hammering out the different possibilities which in turn I would think other learned people would have gotten wind of.
I would think the erudite community or those in that branch would have been chomping at the bit over DNA.

I wasn’t arguing against circumstantial cases with all those dopey crime shows people get the impression that physical evidence is always needed. Certainly, prosecutors and Johnny law would prefer physical evidence but that’s not always the case.

The Sci-fi world is not as farfetched as we would think most people have a “beam me up Scotty” mobile phone, laser beams have been bounced of the moon, the international space station along with the retired space shuttle, down to the way the world communicates. All of these things sounded far fetched not so long ago.

tiarna said...

Tb

The ruc focused on extraction of confessions so on forensic front they collected or over looked evidence happhazardly. To put their minds to what the scientific world might come up with would require too much thinking and, in their working lives, less fruitful than wall to wall interrogations

tiarna said...

Tb

The ruc focused on extraction of confessions so on forensic front they collected or over looked evidence happhazardly. To put their minds to what the scientific world might come up with would require too much thinking and, in their working lives, less fruitful than wall to wall interrogations

frankie said...

tiarna
This my problem with the DNA test on the ciggie butt.. The Judge summed up the case on 'if's, buts & maybe's..nothing else. The ciggie butt wasn't photographed at the crime scene (the Judge even admitted that). And I gave you an 'if, but or maybe' on how the RUC got Sean Kearneys DNA and you dimissed it as as sci-fi...In 1981 they aready knew about HLA testing and thats a simple hop, skip & jump away from DNA profling..And suggesting the RUC didn't know about it or what the next step was doesn't add up in my head. MI5 had a good idea DNA profiling was only around the corner. Personally Sean Kearney went down for two years as a PR exercise to pretend to the world at large that the HET & PSNI are serious about clearing up unsloved murders. Nothing more and nothing less.

Now in a few days time on ESPN there will be a docmentary about the Heights Bar massacre...Where there is lots of DNA, fingerprints, who bought the gun in the first place and even eye witness accounts....

Despite the discovery of eyewitnesses, the recovery of the getaway car, the guns, balaclavas, fingerprints and DNA, why was no one charged, never mind convicted? Why was key evidence destroyed by local police? It turns out that the assault rifles were from Czechoslovakia transshipped to South Africa and brought into Northern Ireland with the aid of British Intelligence. Were they pulling the strings for the attack and the cover-up?

What really pisses the 32A's off me (and probably lots of others) is the cherry picking of who's past gets investigated...

Tain Bo said...

Tiarna,

I wasn’t referring to the cops I just assume in judiciary circles’ they would have bantered about the possibilities of DNA.
Given the history of the cops and their methods along with the rigged court system I keep a healthy skepticism and remain faithless in the system.

A personal bias grounded in the many cases that put innocent people away down the years.

tiarna said...

So when the cops who planted this futuristic evidence realized their dream plan had come true then how come they did not go straight to the evidence bag they had been so conscious to preserve so patiently just for that big day to nail SK? Ya'd think they would have made their move long before now?

Unfortunately for SK the Judges have not got your vivid imagination, and neither would most rational people.

frankie said...

tiarna,
What I gave you first of all was an 'if, but or maybe.. The very same logic that the judge used in summing up...

"“I am firmly convinced the defendant was either the gunman, the driver of the Ford Escort RS2000 or was an occupant of the car being present to provide support for the planned killing. In any event, he is guilty of the murder of John Proctor and the possession of the AR15 rifle and ammunition that killed him.”

No one can place Sean Kearney anywhere near the murder scene. We know the Judge couldn't (his words not mine). What the Judge gave was pure and simple guess work (if, buts & maybes). Was he the gunman, the driver or other? You tell me the Judge didn't know...

So if I say... I am firmly convinced the defendant wasn't either the gunman, the driver of the Ford Escort RS2000 and wasn't an occupant of the car being present to provide support for the planned killing. In any event, he is not guilty of the murder of John Proctor and the possession of the AR15 rifle and ammunition that killed him....

Thats how a jury would hve come back... We know that. Why didn't they (RUC or PSNI) test for DNA before 2010..? Profiling has been in play for years.. I'd say a PR excercise to balance the books and Sean didn't have a get out of jail free card...

I have also shown one example where they (PSNI/Mi5) have more than enough evidence to put killers behind bars (or at least charge them)..And they had the intel' for how many years?

Again the Judge said the crime scene officers appeared to have worked independently from the mapper and the photographer. As a result there was no specific photographic evidence of the cigarette butts.

No specific photographic evidence of the cigarette butts, can't be placed as the trigger man, driver or in support. The only word that cigarette butts were found at the scene comes from the same police force who's officers have been involved in shoot to kill, collusion,planting evidence etc. and the PSNI wont investigate them. And if Sean keanreys case was held in front of a 10 or 12 man-woman jury do you honestly believe he'd been convicted on a ciggie butt that there was no photographic evidence to prove it came from the crime scene....

In the space between my ears it doesn't add up to a conviction. There isn't enough proof..

tiarna said...

SK decided that he was not going to defend himself in the box - The Judge emphasized that SK would be unlikely to remember much of 35 years ago.

I am not saying it is a strong case because its not but SK could have made an effort to defend himself --especially as he had previous bad record hanging over him. I presume his lawyers would have made it abundantly clear the dangers of refusing to testify --that is what hung him. If the Judge is asking what, if or but - The Judge was saying it did not have to be complete given the time lapse but say something -he wanted to hear SK version as counterbalance the prosecution version. Without that the balance fell against him.

belfastgit said...

Tiarna,
apart from the ifs buts and all the rest, the "evidence" against SK was dubious, to say the least. the cigarette butt or butts could have been carried there on the sole of someone's shoe or boot (that's overwhelmingly reasonable doubt). Any self-respecting Republican wouldn't answer any questions from those fuckers for the simple reason that so many people were stitched up with "verbals" all down the years. Many friends of mine who signed statements when they were very young in the 1970's swore they would never ever say a word nor sign anything ever again no matter what the cops did to them in Castlereagh or elsewhere. As for SK giving evidence on his own behalf, everyone knows that if the trial judge "convicts" you after that, then you are fucked on appeal.

Larry Hughes,
Yeah, a friend of mine told me during the week about what was on Facebook and Twitter about McCartney (I am on neither), wonder why it hasn't hit the so-called mainstream media yet? Protected species?

larry hughes said...

Belfastgit

I was a kid in the blocks in 'awe' of the lads and rightly so. I never signed a statement over 5 days with my wife family and new born kids in the mix. I read Ricky O'Rawe had a brush shaft shoved up his arse and said nada. I just wish I'd known the real background to some of the egos in the blocks I was looking up to.

There was a guy they called the 'ice-man'... coz he melted in the barracks!!!!!!!!!!!

tiarna said...

belfastgit

Everything you say is true and the court seems to have been prepared not to rule such things out. The court wanted to know why SK was not prepared to say that from the box?? It was his demeanour in bad character that sealed it against him the presumption being that an innocent or honest man would have no difficulty in making such a case from the box.

the watcher said...

maybe I've overlooked something here or as usual am a bit thick!! but the question I would like to ask is if there was no DNA testing 35 yrs ago and 35 yrs ago the majority of people smoked why pick up a butt at all?

tiarna said...

Watcher

cigarette evidence was only helpful in so far as it suggested that a suspect smoked, and what brand smoked. It is rare but has happened where the suspect was wearing lipstick and left sufficient ridge detail to be identified by fingerprint analyst.

the watcher said...

Thanks tiarna so they kept a butt for 35 years to see if they could arrest someone who didn't wear lipstick, I'm assuming, and most probably in those days smoked embassy No6, Silk Cut, B and H or rolled their own. Half of St Lousises must have been shitting themselves!!!