Sunday, July 12, 2015

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We Are Innocent

Featured in Organised Rage a letter protesting their innocence from John Paul Wooton and Brendan McConville.


We are innocent: We were convicted, and sentenced to spend the rest of our lives in prison in a no jury Diplock Court.


On the 30th of March 2012 we, Brendan Mc Conville and John Paul Wootton, were convicted, and sentenced to spend the rest of our lives in prison, for the fatal shooting of Constable Steven Carroll in Craigavon on the 9th of March 2010.

While We fully understanding and empathise with the grief of the Carroll family and with no desire to exacerbate that grief, we wish to take this opportunity to state publicly that we have been convicted of something that we had nothing to do with, we are innocent and we do not believe that we received a fair hearing at our trial under a diplock court.
 
Further to this we also believe that Justice Girvan erred in his judgement of the information presented and convicted us more on the emotional and political furore created by the case than on the evidence presented. For this reason we have instructed our legal teams to appeal our convictions.
 
This appeal will centre on the following pieces of evidential information that were never fully dealt with by Justice Girvan, they are;
  • The prosecutions’ key witness, witness M, despite having a prescribed impairment of his sight, claimed that he seen Brendan Mc Conville at a distance that would be medical impossible,
  • It took witness M almost a year to come forward with this information and since that date he has been given anonymity and provided for in protective custody.
  • Witness M’s eye-witness account described Brendan as wearing a coat of a different style and colour from that presented by the prosecution,
  • This coat, recovered within hours of the shooting, was dry yet the weather conditions at the time  were rainy,
  • The forensic examination of this coat and the fire-arm recovered after the shooting did not match,
  • Although multiple sources of DNA were found on the coat only Brendans’ were followed up on,
  • A tracking device that had allegedly been planted on John Paul’s car by MI5 and was used as evidence to place us at the scene of the shooting, went ‘missing’ for a period of time, only to be returned in an altered state and “with data missing”,
  • Although the assault rifle and several rounds of ammunition used in the shooting were recovered no forensic link was made with either of us.
In short a case that placed us at the scene and attributed any role to us was never made, let alone proven. Rather, because the PSNI/MI5 were under so much pressure to obtain a conviction, evidence was constructed and altered to ‘fit the case’ and not examined as pieces of information that could prove or disprove our innocence.
 
Hopefully this miscarriage of justice can be over turned at our appeal and this nightmare of suffering for us and our families ended. However, after the experience we have already had we do not have a great deal of confidence in the criminal justice system, hence, we are asking you, the public, to follow the course of our appeal and to see for yourself the manner in which information is dealt with and how ‘justice’ is being administered in your name. Let’s not wait 15 – 20 years to deal with a miscarriage of justice, let us do so now,

Yours
Brendan McConville and John Paul Wootton.
Maghaberry Jail, County Antrim.
Ireland.

14 comments :

Cue Bono said...

If they are innocent men then why did the adopt the Green Book tactic of silence during police interviews? Why not take the opportunity to prove their innocence?

DaithiD said...

Cue Bono, not recognising the UK Police's authority to ask questions of Irish citizens is a legitimate republican position. It does not confer guilt whatsoever.

diplockcourts said...

Cue Bono

There is strong and compelling case law throughout the British legal system to show that remaining silent is the best way for an innocent person to protect themselves.

I made and signed statements during my interrogation in Castlereagh, nevertheless the Trial Judge drew an adverse inference against me for remaining silent -so maybe they did speak who knows?

Look up another high profile case that of Stephan Kiszko -he vocally protested his innocence to the Police and to the Court -likewise the court found him guilty for remaining silent. He spent 25 years in jail before he was able to prove that he was completely innocent.

But most of all, the right to remain silent had been a valued right in British common law long before the compilation of the Green Book.

irishfreedom32 said...

Cue Bono, taking a stance of silence doesn't mean you're guilty. Some Volunteers have done long gaol sentences for things they haven't done and had remained silent through interrogation.

Cue Bono said...

"a legitimate republican position"

"Some Volunteers have done long gaol sentences"

So the defence is that they were innocent terrorists?

"the right to remain silent had been a valued right in British common law long before the compilation of the Green Book."

A right which was removed because terrorists were trained to adopt it when captured. Silence during interview now implies guilt under law.

diplockcourts said...

"Silence during interview now implies guilt under law."

Wrong -where did you get that from? If a person remains silent no inference can be made unless they seek to rely on something at their trial that they could have told their interrogators (As the Police caution goes "You have a right to remain silent but if you fail to mention something that you seek to rely on in court an adverse inference may be drawn against you"). Even in non-jury Diplock Courts a conviction cannot be made based on an adverse inference alone because it is not evidence of guilt.

The point is innocent people do remain silent and for good reason. That is no reason to convict just because you think they should talk to police. You are obviously fond of the police and no doubt you'd bend over backwards to help them -a lot of people distrust them and would not co-operate with them -you don't dish out life sentences to people just because they do not think like you.

Silence is not evidence of guilt. Being as fundamentally wrong on this issue as you are, and you are quite absolute in your statements, what other excuse would you use to say that these 2 men are guilty? The point being, if we go on your determination which is wrong then the presumption of innocence means they should have been found innocent -that is just from following your logic and how the law works.






Cue Bono said...

Fair enough Diplock it was bad wording on my part. In official language: "As a suspect you always have the right to silence although inferences may be drawn from the suspect’s silence as a consequence which flows from being silent." http://www.inbrief.co.uk/police/police-interviews-remaining-silent.htm

As you say that silence alone is not enough to convict, but these two were convicted on the basis of additional evidence which has also been tested through the appeal court.

Speaking as a lay man if I was arrested and accused of a crime as heinous as murder I would be doing everything in my power to prove my innocence. The guilty terrorist on the other hand is trained to keep his mouth shut.

I don't think it likely that innocent members of the public are accepted onto the dissident republican wing of Maghaberry either.

Simon said...

An adverse inference can be drawn from a suspect remaining silent but the inference on its own cannot prove guilt. The application is actually narrower than that suggested by Cue Bono and wider than that explained by Diplockcourts.

Simon said...

Sorry Cue Bono I was referring to your earlier post at 10.01pm yesterday not the one written at 5.54pm today which was put up at the same time as mine I think.

diplockcourts said...

Cue Bono

"these two were convicted on the basis of additional evidence which has also been tested through the appeal court."

My understanding of the case is that, at best, there is speculative, circumstantial and unreliable evidence perhaps but no clear evidence. On reading the Appeal Judgment that court effectively concluded (in layman's terms) 'I don't know what you did but I know you did it.' That to me gives rise to clear reasonable doubt.

The caution has changed since I last heard it.

Even in murder cases innocent people have been known to refuse to account for their movements -and of course when innocent people try to explain that they were not involved they are faced with having to answer questions like "Ok, if you didn't do it then who did?" As soon as they point the finger at anyone then they are trying to shift the blame -or, if they just don't know who did it then it comes right back at them again -the only way to deal with this is just keeping quiet and minding your own business because that way you are under no obligation to do the cops job for them.

Innocent people have also been known to lie about their whereabouts to hide something personal, ie, they were in bed with a married woman at the time or something sensitive like that.

One good reason to go onto a paramilitary wing is for safety because otherwise you are prone to attack from other prisoners sympathetic to Unionists/Brits. I know the IRA had a policy of allowing innocent people and 1st time criminals onto their wings.

Cue Bono said...

No worries Simon. My knowledge of law is limited and I'm here to learn.

Cue Bono said...

Diplock,

The Judge and Judges who initially sentenced these people and who reviewed their appeal are much more qualified to decide what constitutes evidence than either of us are.

I really don't think that someone facing a life sentence in prison would keep quiet about their alibi in order to cover up an affair. If that was the case then what are the chances that both had similar reasons for keeping quiet? If either was innocent it should have been very easy for them to account for their whereabouts on the night in question. Instead they 'counted the holes on the interview room walls'. Classic terrorist behaviour.

I think that terrorist organisations would be very wary about allowing ODCs, or innocent civilians onto their wings lest they should be there to spy on them. Anyway iirc these two smirked their way through the trial with visible and audible support from well known dissident republicans in the court room.

The sooner that it sinks in, amongst those who support republican terrorism, that it achieves nothing and destroys the lives of the fools who engage in it, the sooner we will have lasting peace in this country.

Simon said...

Cue Bono "The sooner that it sinks in, amongst those who support republican terrorism, that it achieves nothing and destroys the lives of the fools who engage in it, the sooner we will have lasting peace in this country."

Ireland unfree will never be at peace.



Ho Ho, only messing with you Cue. Just trying to wind you up. ;)

diplockcourts said...

Cue Bono

"The Judge and Judges who initially sentenced these people and who reviewed their appeal are much more qualified to decide what constitutes evidence than either of us are."

As I said my view of the case is based upon what the Lord Chief Justice has said. You can read the relevant paragraphs for yourself. Note how the Court observes that the attack was carefully planned but that there is no evidence that either man were involved at that stage or in the actual attack itself -what they did is a mystery to the Court and that does not satisfy the criminal standard of beyond reasonable doubt:


[21] The murder of Constable Stephen Carroll was a carefully planned terrorist operation. McConville participated in that operation although it is not possible to identify his particular role. The prosecution case is that he did not fire the shot which killed the deceased and there is no evidence as to his being involved in the planning and preparation of the offence.

[28] In the case of Wootton many of the same aggravating factors apply. He was a willing participant in the terrorist murder of a police officer. The precise nature of his role in the offence has not been established. There is no suggestion that he was the person who fired the weapon nor is there any evidence to indicate that he planned or organised the attack.


http://www.courtsni.gov.uk/en-GB/Judicial%20Decisions/PublishedByYear/Documents/2014/%5B2014%5D%20NICA%2069/j_j_MOR9413Final.htm