News Roundup Week Ending 1 August 2014
By Charlotte Rowles on 31/07/14Share:
Martin Conmey (63) said the conviction "affected my health, and it has been difficult to get through most days.
"I have had to watch my two friends who were accused with me suffer as well for something they were innocent of, one of whom lost his life," he said.
Mr Conmey, from Ratoath, Co Meath, embraced friends and family following the ruling. Outside court, he said he was delighted that his name had been cleared.
Mr Conmey and his friend Dick Donnelly were convicted of her manslaughter in July 1972.
Mr Donnelly won his appeal against his conviction in 1973 but Mr Conmey's conviction was upheld and he served three years in jail.
The CCA heard the later statements placed Mr Conmey and Mr Donnelly in Mr Donnelly's car on Porterstown lane during the crucial 15-minute period in which Ms Lynskey disappeared.
Arising out of the 2010 decision, Mr Conmey applied to the CCA, based on newly discovered facts, to certify his conviction as being a miscarriage of justice. His counsel, Hugh Hartnett SC, argued that the State had never outlined what part in the killing Mr Conmey was meant to have played and there was no single factual or scientific allegation against him.
In its ruling, the CCA said Mr Conmey was convicted on the basis he was involved in a joint enterprise with others. The establishment of a joint enterprise was essential to any case against Mr Conmey.
One of the witness statements said that no car passed Porterstown Lane in the relevant time period. There could be no doubting the importance of the evidence that put Mr Conmey in Mr Donnelly's car at the relevant time period, the CCA found.
The only surviving witness, Sean Reilly, now gives an account of having been "severely and unlawfully pressurised by gardai to make the altered statements". His account also includes allegations of physical assault. No other explanation for the changed statements was advanced by the State, the CCA added.
Owen Boycott, The Guardian’s legal affairs correspondent reports on the impact of legal aid cuts on family courts.
Legal aid cuts have left family courts 'at breaking point'.
People facing child custody and divorce cases without proper advice as private arbitrations rise, says lawyer's body Resolution.
Jo Edwards, a solicitor and the newly appointed chair of Resolution, fears that a two-tier system of justice is emerging where private clients opt out of overcrowded, slow-moving public courts in favour of private arbitration hearings.
The result is that as many as two-thirds of cases working their way through the family courts now involve at least one side which has no lawyer to provide help, Edwards estimates. Such cases take more time because judges have to help litigants in person develop their claims.
"We accept you can't go back to [funding family cases all the way through] but if you have a system at breaking point that will be more costly. The family courts system is very, very, very stretched. We recently met the Association of District Judges [who deal with family cases in county courts] and they were virtually holding their heads in their hands and saying it's very diffficult.
The organisation is already running a pilot project along those lines for the Department of Work and Pensions in Crewe, Oxford and Newcastle, working with people who would previously have been eligible for legal aid. The number of couples attending mediation sessions plummeted last year following the removal of legal aid; divorcing couples stopped going to solicitors who would have directed them on to trained mediators.
Edwards, a family expert with the law firm Penningtons Manches, believes that successive governments have dodged the political responsibility of introducing no-fault divorces because they do not want to be blamed for making divorce easier.
"The only cases reported are the huge money ones which are not applicable to the man in the street. So you have lots of people representing themselves who are deriving no real guidance [about the state of the law]." People representing themselves tend also to bring along more supporters, she added, increasing the number of "raised voices" in family courts and the level of tension.
"We are committed to making sure that more people make use of mediation rather than go through the confrontational and stressful experience of going to court. Millions of pounds of legal aid remains available for family mediation and for legal advice to support family mediation.
In our latest SIO corner series, we look at an SIO's situational awareness, the investigative mindset and the national decision model.
In this series, we preview sections of Blackstone's third edition of the Senior Investigating Officers' Handbook. This book provides invaluable insight about the essential skills and responsibilities that a senior investigating officer needs to manage serious crime investigations, from the initial response through to crime scene examination and investigative strategies. PoliceOracle.com readers can enjoy a 20 per cent discount on the book with our special offer code at the end of the article.
This week, we focus on situational awareness and decision-making.
Situational awareness typically refers to being aware of what is going on all around you. It is a term often referred to in police circles (and other professions such as the military and aviation industry, eg pilots and air traffic controllers). The concept is linked to perceptions of time and environmental information (temporal and spatial elements) that are critical and influential in complex and dynamic circumstances.
Situational awareness (SA) involves being aware of what is happening in and around the vicinity of an incident in order to understand what information, location, events and actions are helpful to decision making. Having a good sense of situational awareness provides an innate feel for situations, people and events and helps prevent errors in decision making. This is particularly important when there is a high level of information flow and decisions rely upon the recognition of SA factors.
There are a number of definitions available for SA, including the following:
• ‘The perception of elements in the environment within a volume of time and space, the comprehension of their meaning, and the projection of their status in the near future.’
• ‘Knowing what is going on so you can work out what to do.’
• ‘Accessibility of a comprehensive and coherent situation representation which is continuously being updated in accordance with the results of recurrent situation assessments.’
SA indicates how decision making and problem solving are more than one dimensional and must take into account what is happening in dynamic environments; which is of great value to serious crime investigation.
The investigative mindset
National Decision Model
Former Detective Superintendent Tony Cook was a career detective and senior investigating officer with Greater Manchester Police until he retired in 2009. He is currently a PIP Level 3 and 4 Regional SIO Advisor with the National Crime Agency.